After the recent highs of victories against Sunderland and Accrington Latics came crashing back to earth with their worst performance of season.
The visitors were ahead after only four minutes when 17-year-old Kwadwo Baah unleashed an unstoppable drive from the edge of the box past Jamie Jones.
Dale were given far too much freedom to play and they were 2-0 up on 19 minutes when Aaron Morley’s cross found the unmarked Matt Lund who headed home from close range.
2-0 at the interval but worse was to come in the second half as the dominant visitors rammed home their advantage with further goals from Stephen Dooley, and a brace from Alex Newby.
Latics remain second bottom of the table after Burton Albion lost at Ipswich while Rochdale move up to 16th place.
Leam Richardson named an unchanged team for the first time this season with Thelo Aasgaard returning to the bench after injury.
Latics started slowly and Rochdale were ahead after only four minutes when the former Crystal Palace youth player Baah unleashed a great strike past Jamie Jones.
The visitors were enjoying plenty of possession and causing plenty of problems for Latics out of sorts defence and it was no surprise when they increased their lead on 19 minutes. Morley was allowed time to cross and the unmarked Lund headed home from inside the six-yard box.
Alex Perry volleyed over from inside the box after Tom James’ knock down, and James forced a good save from Jay Lynch at the back post as Latics tried to respond
But Dale continued to look dangerous and Jones came to the rescue denying Newby, Lund and Stephen Humphrys as they looked to increase their advantage.
2-0 at the interval but it could so easily have been three or four as Dale were allowed the time and space to dictate the game.
Would Latics up their game in the second half? Unfortunately the answer was no, as Dale continued to dominate.
Substitute Stephen Dooley was allowed time and space inside the box as Latics’ defence retreated and he made no mistake with a low drive into the bottom right corner.
Thelo Aasgaard replaced Will Keane on 60 minutes but Latics failed to pose any real threat to Rochdale.
Darnell Johnson appeared to be a little unlucky to concede a penalty on 63 minutes when he was adjudged to have fouled Humphrys, but Alex Newby made no mistake with the spot-kick.
Luke Robinson replaced the injured Tom Pearce on 64 minutes as Latics’ woes continued.
In the 90th minutes James’ header was cleared off the line as they strived for a consolation and matters got worse two minutes later as Newby curled home Rochdale’s fifth goal to reinforce Rochdale’s complete domination.
Credit should be given to Rochdale but this had been a desperately disappointing display by Latics who were outplayed for most of the 94 minutes. The visitors had been given far too much time and space and they could easily have won by a greater margin.
It was a harsh lesson for many of Latics’ players who looked jaded after their recent wins against Sunderland and Accrington and there will need to be a massive improvement at Fleetwood on Saturday if they are to get anything from the game.