Leeds United 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0
But it took out-of-touch Leeds a long time to grind down Wednesday's stubborn resistance, avenge a 1-0 defeat at Hillsborough in September and end the Owls' run of three league wins.
Bates, who rejected a Hillsborough takeover before moving in at Leeds, has overseen a year of rapid progress after rescuing the club from oblivion, but he must have squirmed in his seat during this dire Yorkshire derby.
Leeds had ample possession but Wednesday packed their midfield to deny Kevin Blackwell's side space, watched by Elland Road's biggest crowd of the season.
Sean Gregan, deputising for the injured Mathew Kilgallon, made his first appearance for two months and almost marked it with a second minute goal, but on-loan keeper Nicky Weaver blocked the defender's shot at the foot of his post.
After that, neither keeper had much to do in an hour of stalemate.
At least Wednesday's supporters were on form, giving their side superb vocal encouragement, but Deon Burton had to plough a lone furrow in the Owls' attack.
Calls for David Healy to leave the bench from the Elland Road faithful were answered in the 62nd minute when the Irishman replaced Robbie Blake, but it was Wednesday who almost broke the deadlock a minute later when Graham Coughlan's header from Chris Brunt's corner was cleared off the line.
But Leeds' breakthrough arrived on 69 minutes as Butler launched himself into a diving far post header to guide Jonathon Douglas' cut back into the opposite corner for his second goal of the season.
Then on 81 minutes, Cresswell met Gary Kelly's corner near the penalty spot and powerfully headed home the second.
And when Cresswell turned in Eddie Lewis' cross from the left just before the end, the long suffering home supporters went home happy.