Only Newcastle United, this most mesmerising and unfathomable of football clubs, with such a relentless propensity for shooting itself in the foot, could emerge from a thoroughly convincing victory at Hull, a display of enterprise and virtuosity and just when they needed a pick-me-up most, engulfed in controversy and news of a negative hue.
On the eve of the Capital One Cup final, only Newcastle United could steal the headlines from Sunderland.
At the heart of it all and dividing opinion like no other, only Alan Pardew is to blame.
The Magpies manager this morning awaits his fate via the FA but having accepted his club’s shrewdly-proactive punishment (£100,000 and a formal warning) for aiming a headbutt at former Black Cat David Meyler, he appears for now safe in his job.
Mike Ashley dances to the beat of his own drum, above all.
The incident, you’ll by now have seen.
But for those residing on the moon this past 48 hours (and who could fault the Toon Army for that?): on 72 minutes, Meyler attempts to retrieve the ball from Newcastle’s technical area; Pardew backheels it from him; Meyler pushes Pardew aside; Pardew pursues Meyler, the pair square up, forehead to forehead, and Pardew advances his briefly but not without force into Meyler’s.
As Glasgow kisses go, this was a peck to be laughed off Sauchiehall Street. On St David’s Day, Meyler was not without sin.
Yet Pardew’s actions remain inexcusable and, sad to say for a canny operator whose defence, nonetheless, is burdened by previous, not seemingly out of character.
So, obviously, all hell broke loose, and it continues to roam free.
While referee Kevin Friend (who sent Pardew to the KC Stadium stands and booked Meyler), assistant John Flynn and fourth official Howard Webb sought to defuse the situation, the world and its dog have subsequently weighed in with their take on it all, Robbie Savage’s footing on the moral high ground proving to be particularly galling.
Though Pardew denied headbutting the player, that is a linguistic matter. More concerning for him will be his rebuke, already and to come, and the notion of how he might now impose discipline on a playing staff still reeling from whatsoever occurred between Willie Donachie and Remie Streete.
One way or another, Pardew will be watching Newcastle’s next few games from a different vantage point, but play like this and that may be no bad thing.
After a week dominated by financial results and a fans forum, when football was, briefly, permitted centre stage it stole the show.
Making light of Fabricio Coloccini’s absence through compassionate leave and counter-attacking at pace and in selectively-savvy numbers, Moussa Sissoko book-ending the lot, United survived Alex Bruce’s early scare thanks to Tim Krul’s smart double save, and were swiftly rewarded for their front-foot endeavour.
On 10 minutes, Sissoko applied the finishing aplomb to an outfield move he had started himself, with help from an Oscar-deserving support cast of Yoan Gouffran, Cheick Tiote, Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy.
Twenty-six seconds earlier, the ball had been in the hands of Krul. So while the Toon Army sang “Cheer up Steve Bruce”, they might also have added a verse for his son.
But Bruce Jnr wasn’t the only profligate player for the hosts, as Nikica Jelavic headed wide and clipped a free-kick off the wall and onto the crossbar, and Ahmed Elmohamady also nodded off target.
Good chances, these. But exploiting the spaces afforded by Hull’s 3-5-2 formation, United also, on 42 minutes, took advantage of Maynor Figueroa’s charity – a lapse, lazy backpass – as Remy stole clear, rounded Allan McGregor and doubled his side’s lead.
Leading Hull at half-time courtesy of a Remy goal late in the first half, a week after beating Aston Villa; haven’t we been here before?
On that September day, Hull hit back straight after the interval, and obliged the repetition of history on Saturday when Krul unnecessarily invaded no-goalkeeper’s-land, leaving Curtis Davies to head Tom Huddlestone’s free-kick into the vacated net.
But no matter, for on 55 minutes Newcastle restored their two-goal lead. Vurnon Anita intercepted Elmohamady’s deep cross, Sissoko’s pass, intended for Remy, was re-routed by Figueroa only to Gouffran, and though his shot was parried by McGregor, Sissoko maintained his day-long commitment to perpetual motion and slotted in the rebound.
“You’re just a **** Stevie Harper,” sang the Toon Army.
But who needs a goalkeeper? On the hour, Luuk De Jong blotted an impressively industrious copybook blocking a Debuchy volley.
McGregor was called back into action to twice deny Remy, who was also tripped by Davies right on the edge of the box, while Elmohamady hacked Gouffran’s hook off the line.
But seconds after Krul blocked a James Chester effort at one end, Dan Gosling drove into the box at the other, slipped, and when Dummett’s angled follow-up was saved by McGregor, Anita tapped in his first Premier League goal.
So all manner of reasons to celebrate. A first Premier League win at Hull, Newcastle’s 100th away and seventh of the season – better than Manchester City and Liverpool, better than at home.
Alas, the post-mortem was about other things, and it goes on.