The veteran frontman swelled his goal tally to nine since joining the Valiants as promotion rivals Burton were on the wrong end of a hammering. Vale's 1993/94 promotion-winning team were paraded at half-time and the celebratory mood among Vale Park's biggest crowd in 15 years, 10,978, increased as their team completed a stunning rout.
Hughes struck twice from the penalty spot after opening rampant Vale's account with a firm header. Adams said: "The first goal was what Lee does best. He was in the right place. He might have got two penalties, but they've still got to be put away and he showed all his experience.
"The performance was fuelled by the supporters. When you see 11,000 fans in Vale Park like that it makes me realise why I came to the club.
"And it was nice that the 1994 team were all here. That was a tribute to them.
"It was a special occasion, but it's still only three points. We picked up four points over Easter and coped with the pressure of games, but we're not there yet and there is still work to do."
Hughes peeled off his marker and headed Daniel Jones' cross into the bottom corner for the opener after 12 minutes. And the 36-year-old converted a 20th-minute penalty awarded after he was impeded in the box by Zander Diamond to make it two-nil.
Chris Birchall added a stunning third five minutes later when he curled into the far corner from 20 yards for his first goal since rejoining the club. Hughes then completed his hat-trick from the spot five minutes after half-time when Alex MacDonald clipped Birchall's heel as he advanced into the box.
Vale refused to let up and Tom Pope made it 32 goals for the season when he slid home from an angle. Substitute Matt Paterson reduced the arrears for the Brewers when he rifled into the top corner. However, Ben Williamson latched on to Pope's flick-on to drive home and then headed in Chris Shuker's free-kick to bring up the seventh in the last minute.
Burton boss Gary Rowett admitted: "They were a lot better than us. They were strong and ran with more desire. But that's 10 goals we've conceded in two games and we can't keep defending like that. It's given our goal difference a massive battering. So we've got to put it right."