Tiote was brilliant in his first few seasons as a Newcastle player, with his power making him a key part of the Magpies' midfield unit.
However, the Ivorian's form has dipped in recent times, and Macdonald believes that is because his role has become more complicated since Cabaye left to join Paris St Germain in 2014.
"He’s not been the same since Cabaye left," Macdonald said. "He and Cabaye played well together. Tiote knew what he had to do – win the ball and let Cabaye go and play with the ball. It was simple."
Tiote has missed much of this season through injury, but he did come back into Steve McClaren's side for their latest match against Norwich City, which they won 6-2.
The combative midfielder was booked early on in the contest, and was withdrawn at half-time, but he will still feel pleased to have played his part in Newcastle's first win of the season.
McClaren has informed the Chronicle this week that he is looking to get Tiote more involved as the season progresses, as he rates the 29-year-old highly.
After those comments, Tiote will be hoping that he can keep his place in the Newcastle team, with their next match coming against derby rivals Sunderland on Sunday.