FIRST Wales, then the world. Thanks to the magnificent Papiss Demba Cissé, Newcastle enjoyed a winning foray into foreign lands last night.
Considering the way they are surging towards the Premier League finish line, they can legitimately start to target bigger and better trips next season.
Not that this little South Wales sojourn was entirely unenjoyable, of course.
United had to cede possession for most of the game but the awesome Cissé, once again, delivered a personal masterclass in finishing to make the 650-mile round trip feel more than worthwhile.
It is just three weeks since Alan Pardew said his new striker would take some time to settle, which must be a frightening thought for Premier League defences.
He now has nine goals in his last eight and a remarkable seven in his last four.
And these are not tap-ins we’re talking about, either.
His first on five minutes was a brillaintly instinctive shot that angled past Swans keeper Michael Vorm, but his second was right from the top drawer.
Teed up by Yohan Cabaye, he took one touch before chipping a sumptuous lob over the Swansea shot-stopper to quell any hopes of a Welsh fight-back.
His stellar contribution is a big reason why United are now shooting for the stars.
For while the United boss continues to play it coy on the Champions League, he knows full well that Newcastle are right in the mix for a top-four finish.
And never mind fourth-placed Tottenham – who face a testing trip to Wearside this afternoon – they now have Arsenal and a remarkable third-placed finish in their sights.
It may not have been the barnstorming, free-wheeling and forward-thinking approach that swept aside West Brom, but this was a performance as composed and intelligent as anything Newcastle have produced this season.
For while Swansea had the ball for almost the entire game, Newcastle used it more effectively and with far greater purpose than their hosts.
There was a discipline to their play too – with Swansea simply unable to unpick the orange iron curtain that Pardew had laid out for protege Brendan Rodgers.
Again, Newcastle’s makeshift back four delivered a polished performance, making a mockery of the anxiety that swept Tyneside when thoroughbred Fabricio Coloccini pulled up lame at the Hawthorns the other week.
James Perch might not be as fashionable as the Argentinian but his timing and tackling were first-rate once more.
You can say the same about so many clad in orange, with even Hatem Ben Arfa and Cissé getting through an incredible amount of work to keep the Swans at arm’s length.
It certainly made Swansea’s pretensions look decidedly daft.
They call themselves “Swans-alona” in these parts and Rodgers’ side do like a pass.
The constant churning of the ball between white shirts was a dominant feature of a game that illustrated the best and worst of this South Wales interpretation of Barcelona’s famous tika-taka system.
For while Swansea snatched an astonishing 82 per cent of the possession in a lop-sided first half, it was Newcastle and their three-pronged forward line that posed all the questions in a intriguing first period.
Because for all the neat and tidy foundations laid by the hosts, there was always the chance that one of United’s orange and white wrecking balls would be able to bulldoze a way through.
Pardew knew that, of course.
Rodgers was an apprentice of his at Reading and the Newcastle boss had been quite cutting in the pre-match dispatches when he said the Swansea way “isn’t rocket science”.
It certainly isn’t, but it helps to have an attacking formula like the one that sent the orange shirts surging out of the blocks at a febrile Liberty Stadium.
Swansea leave space to exploit but surely no one has wriggled through it with quite the ruthlessness that Cissé managed on the five-minute mark.
There was still so much for him to do when Yohan Cabaye prodded the ball through to him but Cissé took one touch before dispatching superbly beyond Michael Vorm’s out-stretched right palm.
It was the Senegalese striker’s eighth goal in eight games and his real genius is to make it look so effortless.
There looked to be little danger when he received the ball with a clutch of white shirts surrounding him but his shot was hit crisp and true, and early enough to catch Vorm unaware.
Cissé’s celebration – a shrug of the shoulders – suggests it is all a bit straightforward for him.
Swansea proceeded to make it look anything but, weaving pretty little patterns which offered little in the way of attacking punch.
For all the possession they enjoyed, opportunities were at a premium. Angel Rangel rifled over after a smart exchange of possession with Nathan Dyer on the quarter-hour mark and then Newcastle were indebted to their goalkeeper for two fine stops.
Tim Krul batted out a Joe Allen shot and then had to do even better to claw a Gylfi Sigurdsson effort from under his crossbar.
United lost Cheick Tiote at the interval to injury and briefly, Swansea sniffed blood.
Sigurdsson sent a shot skimming wide of Krul’s post while only the Dutchman’s knee prevented an Allen shot from creeping past him.
Swansea’s hopes were brutally undermined by Cissé’s classy second, a lofted shot that had Vorm grasping at thin air.
Rodgers and his men knew the game was up and Newcastle played out the contest perfectly – with only a hamstring injury to Cabaye causing them any great concern.