When Northampton Town fell 2-0 down inside just eight minutes against a rampant Newcastle United, the 990 travelling fans must have been fearing the worst having made the long journey north.
Debutant Florian Thauvin was first to net, needing only two minutes to open his Newcastle account thanks to an improvised finish, before Siem De Jong wasted little time in adding a second as the Premier League side threatened to run riot.
The Cobblers’ response was impressive, though, and they showed tremendous character to haul themselves right back into the game and not give Newcastle an easy ride.
Marc Richards slammed home a penalty to reduce the arrears, and while United created a number of chances, this was far from one-way traffic, particularly in the first half.
The decisive moment in the game came on 17 minutes when, with Northampton enjoying their best spell of the game, Richards planted a diving header inches wide from a well-worked free-kick routine.
Had the ball gone the other side of the post, it would have been 2-2 and the outcome may well have been different.
As it was, Richards missed and Newcastle proceeded to carve out numerous opportunities before, having been repeatedly thwarted by the excellent Ryan Clarke, they finally put the game to bed with two goals in seven second half minutes.
Though on the face of it seems Steve McClaren fielded a weakened team - making nine changes - this was by no means a second-rate Newcastle line-up.
The side included regular first teamers Daryl Janmaat, Massadio Haidara, Yoan Gouffran and Cheick Tiote, while a full debut was given to £12m man Thauvin.
And it was Thauvin who was the chief architect.
The Frenchman was outstanding throughout and needed just two minutes to bag his first Newcastle goal.
He went on to create the other three goals, two with excellent free-kick delivery, and was a constant thorn in Northampton’s side all evening.
For the Cobblers, the highlight of the evening was the tremendous travelling fans who were in fine voice throughout, and regularly out-sung their hosts despite being massively outnumbered.
Their team may have lost, but they can take plenty of encouragement from the performance ahead of a return to Sky Bet League Two action and a trip to Accrington Stanley this weekend.
How they rated
Ryan Clarke - May have conceded four goals, but the Northampton keeper was superb throughout, backing up his manager’s claim that the Cobblers have the best two keepers in League Two as he made a string of terrific stops to keep the scoreline respectable... 8 CHRON STAR MAN
Adam Yates - Impressed on debut. Reads the game well and not afraid to put in a tackle. Kept the highly-rated Rolando Aarons quite after the first goal... 7
Ryan Cresswell - Solid in the air and made one clearance off the line. Will be disappointed that two goals came from set-pieces... 6.5
Rod McDonald - Got the runaround by Newcastle’s tricky forwards at times, and is vulnerable when the ball is played in behind... 6
David Buchanan - Was in for a busy night with the majority of Newcastle’s threat coming down the Cobblers left. Struggled to cope with Janmaat’s bursts forward, though did pull off one excellent block... 6
Joel Byrom - Improvement on recent showings. Used the ball intelligently at times, though gave it away with one terrible pass and was fortunate not to be punished. Almost set up a goal with a well-worked free-kick routine... 6.5
Ryan Watson - Much improved display after Saturday’s nightmare. Broke the play up well alongside Taylor… 6.5
Jason Taylor - Never one to shy away from a challenge. Put himself about and had some nice touches on the ball too... 6.5
Alfie Potter - Was pushed back by the marauding Janmaat. Didn’t have much of an impact in an attacking sense but worked hard and pressed high up the pitch… 6
Nicky Adams - Carried the greatest threat and looked dangerous. Could have had a goal on another night with a couple of decent long-range efforts... 7
Marc Richards - Led the line well. Took his penalty emphatically... 7
Sam Hoskins - 6
Lawson D’Ath - 6
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 6