When the speculation first appeared it was hard to believe - Newcastle were attempting to re-sign the player that funded many of the acquisitions behind last season's success.
First a loan deal, then seemingly an outright purchase, this bold attempt to broker a transfer seems far removed from the policy that has seen the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba arrive - but is it?
During Newcastle's recent resurgence, comparisons have been drawn with the business practice of Mike Ashley, and Lyon chairman Jean Michele Aulas. The principles Aulas outlined in the book Soccernomics do seem similar to those implemented by the hierarchy at Newcastle - one of those rules being buying players with problems, which right now Andy Carroll is.
The most expensive English player of all time struggled under an intense spotlight and a fan base that didn't have the same local attachment to him that Newcastle fans did. Offering the 23-year-old a potential escape and a chance to return to where it all began could see him flourish. Carroll should be keen to note, however, the city he left in January of 2011 has changed considerably. The striker's form during Newcastle's brief stint in the Championship saw a striker with potential emerge but also one with notable raw edges.
Many questioned if he could handle the Premier League - a missed header in Newcastle's first game against Manchester United did little to quell those fears. The catalyst for his early season form came in the following fixture, Aston Villa at home. A hat-trick in a 6-0 victory provided much jubilation on Tyneside and the perceived birth of a new hero clad in the number nine.
In that opening six months everything ran through Carroll, but more importantly the players around him were conducive to his abilities. It is of little coincidence that Joey Barton has struggled to find form since leaving Newcastle, his partnership with Carroll a wholly symbiotic one. Barton's good deliveries and Carroll's prowess in the air both benefited Newcastle.
The final point of Chris Hughton's triangle, Kevin Nolan, has also departed. A goalscorer that in truth offered little else, few were impressed when Nolan took to Liverpool's website to speak of his joy at Carroll's move. Regardless, Nolan's ability to find pockets of space and play off Carroll's knock-downs and flicks again brought good results for both players - the former Bolton man's goal against West Ham at Upton Park typifying the pair in action.
As well as missing team-mates, the style of play, while not entirely removed from what preceded it, has still moved on. Not adverse to hitting it long, the replacing of Nolan with Frenchman Yohan Cabaye indicated a direct attempt to control the flow of possession in games, something manager Alan Pardew has freely admitted.
The change has also spread out wide. The lack of crosses is tempered with a distinct lack of quality wide players whipping balls in. Neither Gabriel Obertan nor Jonas Gutierrez have ever been noted for their ability to deliver.
As Pardew has looked to try different formations - his use of 4-3-3 with Hatem Ben Arfa brought exciting results. At its peak, the movement of Newcastle's front three was fluid and difficult to stop, Newcastle's demolition of West Brom at the Hawthorns proof of that. Whether Carroll would fit into that formation seems highly unlikely, but then he's not really supposed to.
Carroll is wanted for his diversity. Newcastle will compete in four competitions this season, meaning they will need both depth and variety in their front line. January's African Nations Cup will also be firmly in the mind of Pardew - as he is likely to lose both Cisse and Ba. With Dane Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best having also left for Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers respectively, that leaves Shola Ameobi, Sammy Ameobi and Nile Ranger in attack- with Ranger closer to the exit door than the first team.
However, it's not just on the pitch that things have changed, off it the mood has also shifted. When Carroll flew out of Newcastle in Ashley's helicopter, panic set in. Losing their top goalscorer left fans wondering if a chronic capitulation was about to occur, resulting in the the team being relegated in the process. Instead Best came to prominence and Newcastle were able to survive quite comfortably.
In the proceeding days and weeks Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias shouldered much of the blame, but as the dust settled some fans began to turn on Carroll. Local fanzines attempted to mitigate his decision, but ultimately the fact remained - Andy Carroll had chosen to leave Newcastle United.
Cue biblical comparisons to the deceptive Apostle Judas when Newcastle visited Anfield. Almost a year on from that day, Carroll returned to St James' Park and learned first hand just how far removed fans were from feelings of admiration. His dive in the first half was met with a chorus of boos and even some laughs. The previous black and white No. 9 was also being shown up by the current incumbent, as Newcastle ran out 2-0 winners thanks to a brace from Cisse.
Given that Brendan Rodgers has so readily deemed Carroll surplus to requirements - it's fair to suggest that the striker's stock hasn't been at this low an ebb since a disastrous loan spell at Preston North End that saw one goal and one red card in 11 games.
From a Newcastle perspective, the worry of potentially overpaying also crops up. Having developed a recent reputation for shrewd investments, one wonders quite what Mike Ashley sees in Carroll to deem him worth the rumoured £13 million Newcastle are offering. Alan Pardew was quick to distance himself from any involvement in the deal, whereas for the fans a dichotomy has developed.
Some are keen to see the prodigal son return, especially given that Newcastle will still keep around £20 million from the £35 million they received from Liverpool. For others, his bridges have been burned. They refuse to believe he was ushered out, more that he chose to jump with money being a large motivation. Speaking to one fan, he likened the football club to a ship, with the players mere passengers upon it. Poetic maybe, but some feel the return of Carroll would see a regression to the long ball style that he became associated with.
Ultimately there still appears to be some distance between Newcastle and Liverpool's valuation of Carroll. Quite where the player sees his future is anyone's guess, but the state of limbo will do little to stabilise what has been a rocky 18 months for the player at club level. While Rodgers' desire to move Carroll on does not seem personal, more a clash of styles. Quite how a year away would rectify that should Rodgers still be Liverpool manager at the end of the season remains unclear. Equally, is Carroll even looking that far ahead?
With reports claiming Carroll has told Liverpool he wants to stay, another obstacle appears. His wages of £80,000-a-week would not be matched by Newcastle, more than likely halved in fact, making a deal even more convoluted. Given that Graham Carr admitted in a recent interview that he operates with a wealth of targets for each position, you would assume that Newcastle will not look to wait for Carroll, making his black and white return seem unlikely.