SIX minutes. Just six minutes. That’s all the time it took for Newcastle United’s season to unravel.
In that short period on Monday night, goalkeeper Tim Krul made two superb saves and David Silva opened the scoring for Manchester City.
It didn’t get any better at the Etihad Stadium.
The thing is, most of the 1,700 away fans probably saw the 4-0 defeat coming weeks, if not months, ago.
But did owner Mike Ashley? Or director of football Joe Kinnear?
Many teams will lose to City this season. But will they lose in such an abject manner?
Manager Alan Pardew must also take his share of the blame.
Admittedly, Newcastle were always going to be up against it. Manuel Pellegrini’s already-strong playing staff had been strengthened with £90million worth of attacking talent this summer.
United’s squad, by contrast, has been weakened.
James Perch, one of the club’s most consistent performers last season, is among those who have left St James’s Park this summer.
And you can’t tell me Perch would have done a worse job of protecting Newcastle’s back four at Eastlands.
While the likes of Swansea City, Southampton and Norwich City have invested heavily, United have spent a net £1.25m, though Pardew is hopeful of “one or two” more arrivals.
Midfielder Yohan Cabaye’s imminent departure will leave another big hole to fill.
Can you blame Cabaye for wanting to join a more ambitious club, whatever the rights and wrongs of what is happening behind the scenes?
Cabaye’s team-mates also want to win things.
And are they now questioning Newcastle’s ambition? Ashley’s reluctance to build on the club’s fifth-placed finish the season before last set was troubling at the time.
The club hadn’t cracked it. It had just taken a big stride forward.
Since then, the team has gone backwards.
As ever, Ashley’s thoughts remain a mystery. He doesn’t talk to the fans. But does he listen?
In the dying minutes against City, fans chanted “spend some money”.
Is Ashley merely content for the club to tick over in the Premier League with minimum investment and in doing so steadily pay off his loans, while Sports Direct continue to get worldwide exposure?
Or does he actually want the team to compete for silverware?
Then there’s Pardew, whose tactics and management came under such close scrutiny during last season’s relegation battle.
He isn’t being helped by the lack of signings – the only arrival has been loan signing Loic Remy – but can he find a way to win with what he has, come what may?
Kinnear’s arrival – and Ashley’s financial prudence – have seen the spotlight shift away from Pardew over the summer.
But now the season’s started, the glare will again be on him.
Of course, he wasn’t helped by Cabaye’s absence, the injury suffered by Jonas Gutierrez and Steven Taylor’s dismissal.
But the performance wasn’t nearly good enough.
After the game, he said: “I have to say I thought we gave a good account of ourselves up until the sending off.”
Those comments didn’t go down well.
United were second-best in just about every outfield department and only Krul’s heroics in goal kept the score down.
It could have been worse, much were.
Newcastle were disorganised, disjointed and lacking in discipline for much of the game, and only Krul, Hatem Ben Arfa and substitute Paul Dummett emerged with any real credit.
There’s work to be done on the training field.
And there’s work to be done off the pitch over the next 13 days by Kinnear, Ashley and secretary Lee Charnley.
There’s still time to bring in more players, but will it be too little, too late?