Steve Bruce saw hope, Newcastle fans only a ninth defeat in 11 winless games.
Can a decent 20 minute spell against a traditionally chaotic Leeds be the sparks of a revival?
That’s what Bruce and Newcastle will inevitably try to do to preserve this ailing regime. It’s understandable for a coach to grasp at any small positive and plough on.
But it just shows how low Newcastle have slumped in recent weeks.
Racking up 22 shots and nine corners seemed like the heady days of the Entertainers compared with recent games.
In reality it was just Newcastle raising themselves to a level where they can claim to be competitive again.
It needs to be sustained. It has to happen from the first minute, not after they’ve conceded during a mistake-ridden rickety opening.
Seeing Allan Saint-Maximin twist and charge around, opponents doubling up on him creating space elsewhere, was a refreshing tonic.
But the result was the same. A sixth defeat in a row. Against a newly promoted side who have had a system that works drilled into them by a world class manager.
The Toon mini-revival showed that this group of players can produce something resembling the Premier League intensity they have lacked.
It showed they haven’t given up on Bruce, even if pretty much all Toon fans have.
But the erratic nature of this confidence-shorn group means a trip to Everton at the weekend, and home games against Crystal Palace and Southampton, could see any glimmer of improvement extinguished as quickly as it arrived.
Remember, this is a side averaging a goal every seven hours in their last nine games.
And it’s been six weeks of utter misery for their worried fans who fear a slide towards the bottom three as their early season cushion gets eroded.
The rot at St James’ Park is long set – just three wins in their last 14 games at home, seven losses and one clean sheet. Relegation form in all but Premier League position.
Bruce said: “It has been tough. We were unlucky. We didn’t deserve to lose and we were a threat and had some glorious chances. The performance gives us something to fall back on.
“At the end, Marcello was very complimentary about our team and said we deserved more. I saw a bit at Aston Villa and enough today that if we stay healthy we will be fine. We can build some confidence from it.
“We were rocked after we gifted them a goal. Second half was the best performance for a few weeks. Allan coming on and everyone played a part. We were on the front foot, but we got caught.”
Where does this leave him? Will he get the sack?
Results would suggest the axe is imminent, but owner Mike Ashley, his right hand man Justin Barnes, and MD Lee Charnley don’t appear ready to act just yet.
A new coach is being brought in to help, Graeme Jones arrived today for a £250k transfer fee from Bournemouth. A new loan signing could be done by the end of the week.
Could Jones be the man who slides seamlessly into the hot seat if Bruce and his coaching team are eventually sacked?
Will the Gateshead-born new arrival be billed as the ideal caretaker, the new Roberto Martinez, given his background under the Spaniard, including coaching Belgium?
Whatever happens, this is a club fighting for Premier League survival, and a manager on the brink because a continued run of defeats is not sustainable.