Luke Rodgers capitalised on some calamitous goalkeeping by debutant Ashlee Jones after 13 minutes of Tuesday’s League Two clash at Meadow Lane to open the scoring, tapping in from close range.
And the hosts doubled their lead 60 seconds later when Craig Westcarr’s delivery was headed in by Hughes at the far post.
A hapless Quakers rearguard was exposed again after 17 minutes when Ben Davies finished off a swift County breakaway.
Darlington’s hopes of adding to their solitary away point were already all but extinguished yet they came came close to narrowing the deficit in first-half injury time, Mor Diop forcing Kasper Schmeichel to tip his effort around a post before also stopping attempts from Jeff Smith and Paul Harsley.
County, who have scored 26 goals at Meadow Lane this season, wrecked more woe on the visitors late on when Hughes grabbed his fifth goal in four games with a perfectly executed lob to leave Darlington having haemorrhaged 13 goals in their last three outings.