Despite both being in the relegation zone, many saw the 12 mile trip to bitter rivals Sunderland as the perfect opportunity for Newcastle United to kick on after their 6-2 win over Norwich City.
Despite a 3-0 reverse, the visitors played exceptionally well for 45 minutes, before captain Fabricio Coloccini was controversially sent off. The complexion of the contest changed emphatically, with Adam Johnson scoring from the resulting spot-kick on the stroke of half-time.
Whether it's believed that injustice was carried out or not, Newcastle left the Stadium of Light below their neighbours in 19th place, still on six points. From 10 outings, The Magpies have won one, drawn three and lost six.
November has become a critical month for the North-East side as they look to pick up as many points as possible before the Christmas rush of six games in 22 days.
The next four fixtures
Saturday 31st October – Home – vs. Stoke
Saturday 7th November – Away – vs. Bournemouth
Saturday 21st November – Home – vs. Leicester
Saturday 28th November – Away – vs. Crystal Palace
On paper, Steve McClaren’s men should aim to win their home games and take all three points at Bournemouth. Selhurst Park has become a tricky place for visitors and if Newcastle can bring something back to Tyneside with them, it will be a good result.
Unfortunately for The Magpies, all four of their opponents will see them as a team they should beat.
The key fixture comes against Bournemouth, who occupy the third spot in the relegation zone.
Fortunately for Newcastle, there is a sense of injustice within the dressing room after Sunday’s cruel defeat and disputed red card. It’s now up to Steve McClaren and his players to band together and harness this into an ‘us against the world’ mentality to change the club's fortunes.
There are signs of a team coming together at St. James’ Park on the basis of Newcastle’s last two outings. If these performances can extend to last for 90 minutes, there is no doubt there is enough quality in the squad to win their next four games.
Should Newcastle fail to pick up fewer than seven points from a possible 12, however, they will find themselves firmly embroiled in a relegation battle - their third in five seasons.