With the sides each occupying an automatic relegation spot prior to kick off, the tension around the Veltins Arena was truly palpable.
Yet, while Hertha had won their last three matches against Schalke, the hosts burst in front after just three minutes.
Tim Skarke’s opponents could but watch, as his wonderful effort from just outside the area flew into the top-right corner, marking a spectacular maiden goal in Schalke colours for the loanee from Hertha’s rivals Union Berlin.
The Royal Blues looked nothing like a side that was winless at home in nearly two months, and with the wind in their sails, they doubled their advantage after 13 minutes.
Skarke was clearly thriving from his earlier strike, and turned provider, with his cross picking out the unmarked Marius Bulter, who headed into the left-hand corner for 2-0.
However, the visitors finally began to mount a fight-back in first-half stoppage time, when Stevan Jovetic halved the deficit by smashing a ball from an errant flag-kick into the top-right corner to set up an intriguing second half.
If onlookers expected Schalke to be rocked by conceding late in the first half, they were proved wrong just three minutes after the restart.
A quick counter-attack ended with Kenan Karaman squaring the ball to Simon Terodde, and he slotted calmly past Oliver Christensen to restore the hosts’ two-goal advantage.
Thomas Reis will have been forgiven for thinking that this goal ought to have led to victory for his team, though Bulter was hungry for more and picked up a pass before clipping a brilliant lob from 18 yards and into the net for 4-1.
Marco Richter gave the basement-bound Hertha a late consolation, when a terrific long pass from Jessic Ngankam picked him out unmarked inside the box. He slammed an effort, almost with pure frustration, into the bottom-left corner.
But Hertha wouldn’t even be given the satisfaction of the final word, as Schalke added a fifth during stoppage time through Marcin Kaminski’s direct free kick into the corner, sending the Royal Blues out of the automatic relegation zone in style.