A first goal in his second spell on Teesside could prove to be the catalyst for a Premier League surge from Boro.
Not only was Downing's goal a crucial start towards collecting three vital points, but it also seemed to release the England midfielder from the shackles that have dogged him since his summer return from West Ham United.
One of the highest paid players in the Championship and none with bigger expectation levels on him, although he has contributed to Boro's decent start, the opening goal against MK was historic in more ways than one.
It was Boro's first ever goal against the Milton Keynes side, as it was the first meeting between the two clubs, and it was Downing's first goal on Teesside since February 2009, when he netted in an FA Cup tie with West Ham.
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Downing could, and should now go on to to be the catalyst he was signed to be, the returning hero who can lead his hometown club back to the promised land of the Premier League.
“There was a bit of emotion, but it was more the fact that it was 0-0 at the time with not long to go. That is what made it feel special, we needed it badly,” Downing told the Gazette.
“I am happy with the goal, obviously, but as long as we are winning is the main thing. But it is a great feeling to score again at the Riverside."
The pressure is now firmly on Downing, almost as much as Boro themselves. One man never makes a team, but one man can inspire them, and that is his job. He certainly is well placed to do it.