It was a barnstorming introduction to life on Tyneside. With instability swirling around St James' Park, the side nurtured by Chris Hughton was no longer being led by him, with Alan Pardew having taken the reins.
As the shock of Hughton's departure began to sink in, banners with correctly-spelled messages eulogised him. As faux-philosopher Joey Barton preached: "The king is dead, long live the king."
Pardew had some way to go before he could earn the sort of admiration Hughton had garnered. On a cold Saturday evening against Roy Hodgson's Liverpool, that love was reserved for a ponytailed number nine.
An injury-time goal from the powerful and uncompromising Andy Carroll completed a 3-1 victory and crowned a fine team performance that boasted the kind of vivacity associated with the fixture during the 4-3 classics of the 1990s.
Last season's fixture was memorable for its sense of pantomime, with Carroll and Jose Enrique part of a visiting team defeated 2-0. The former had exited his hometown club after having said he wanted to spend his entire career on Tyneside, while the latter had said the Magpies would never challenge for the top six under Mike Ashley's ownership.
With Carroll substituted on 79 minutes and Enrique ending the match in goal, donning Pepe Reina's gloves after his compatriot's dismissal, the chants were inevitable: "We're in the top six, Jose Enrique. We're in the top six."
Like many of that Newcastle side, Enrique had forged a bond with the fans during a season in the Championship and, while his decision to leave was understandable, his claims about their prospects under Ashley were not.
This time, the full-back will return to St James' Park feeling somewhat vindicated: Pardew's second season has gone down as well as Carroll's dive in front of the Leazes End last season. Injuries, suspensions and fatigue have all been cited in mitigation, but little explanation has been offered for the poor standard of play in general.
Last year, Pardew had cultivated a fluid front three that dazzled. Now, he prefers 4-3-2-1, and recent games have seen him relying on the acceleration of Moussa Sissoko. Injury-time goals have often been Newcastle's redemption this season, and the manager finds himself embroiled in his most testing period since taking charge at the club.
Having been forced to evolve his side in the wake of Carroll's sale to Liverpool, he will need to once again reinvent them if he is to recapture hearts and minds at St James' Park.
Liverpool, by contrast, find themselves in a more stable position than when travelling north last year. Then under the guidance of Kenny Dalglish, the image of Steven Gerrard gesturing to him to get off the pitch after Reina's sending off suggested the King's return was to be brief.
With the club now led by Brendan Rodgers, the ship has been steadying, although the latest Luis Suarez controversy has been making waves. The Northern Irishman's calm approach to the biting incident had appeared more measured than Dalglish's defence of the Uruguayan after the Patrice Evra affair, but that perception was diminished slightly by his midweek claim that Suarez's ten-game ban was harsh and that the player was being victimised by the FA.
Even so, the manager's desire to defend Suarez can be easily explained given that he is the Premier League's second-top scorer this season. With Carroll having been sent out on loan, he will not be able to fill the void, but Pardew will be hoping that his French contingent can provide a sprinkle of deja-vu.
Liverpool player to watch: Steven Gerrard. Gerrard will need to show his class and experience to come out on top at St James' Park. The England captain can use his power to outmuscle the Newcastle midfield, but still needs to be wary of Sissoko, whose pace on the counter can be devastating. If he can sit deep and look for pockets of space, he will negate any physical battle.
Newcastle player to watch: Papiss Cisse. It was a surprise to learn that the striker had been playing with a cracked rib, but he is central to his side's hopes. Often unable to do the simple but capable of the sublime, he will be looking to torment Liverpool as he did last season, when he netted both goals in this fixture.
Key Battle: Steven Taylor v Daniel Sturridge. Once an over-eager youth player who feigned a rib injury to avoid being sent off for handling the ball, it's easy to forget that Taylor is now 27 years old. The more senior partner of the club's defensive pairing, Saturday's match-up against Sturridge is the kind of situation in which he has floundered in the past. It is important that January signing Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, a more composed defender, provides a steadying influence.
Trivia: When Carroll joined Liverpool in January 2011, Newcastle collected an initial fee of £35 million. Against West Bromwich Albion last week, the Magpies' starting XI cost the exact same amount. Newcastle could yet collect another £5 million in add-ons for the 24-year-old, which would cover all but two of the seven substitutes named that day.
Stats: Despite being noted for their impressive defensive record during Pardew's first campaign, the Magpies have only been able to keep five clean sheets in the Premier League this season. Liverpool, meanwhile, have found sharing the goals difficult. Suarez is the only Reds player to reach double figures in the league this season, and the striker has also netted almost half the club's goals away from Anfield. If Newcastle are able to strike first, they may hold the advantage, with only three of Liverpool's 13 wins this season having seen them recover from behind.
Odds: The home side are underdogs with bet365 at 2.87, with Liverpool at 2.40 and the draw 3.50.
Prediction: Backed by a hopeful home crowd, Newcastle can earn a draw and continue their slow march towards safety.