Miles Starforth previews Newcastle's visit to the City Ground
Every promotion-winning team has a wobble. Or two. Or three.
It happens. And Newcastle United, inevitably, will lose more games this season.
The club had a wobble or two on the way to the Championship title in the 2009-10 season.
A 1-0 defeat to tonight's opponents Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in mid-October saw the club drop down to second place.
Newcastle were awful that day. And they were awful three days later in another loss, this time at the hands of Scunthrope United.
But they picked themselves up, dusted themselves down and quickly returned to the top. And stayed there.
It's been a difficult week for league leaders United, who created more than enough chances to beat Hull City on Tuesday night and reach the EFL Cup semi-finals, yet lost because of a defensive lapse and three poor penalties.
They were also uncharacteristically, and inexplicably, bad against Blackburn Rovers in last weekend's Championship defeat to Blackburn Rovers.
Did Rafa Benitez made a change too many?
And how will they react at the City Ground, the stadium where Kevin Keegan's title-chasing side infamously blew their game in hand 20 years ago?
Will we see the powerful side which dominated Leeds United at Elland Road the weekend before last?
Forest, however, are likely to carry more of a goal threat, having scored 32 goals, just four less than Newcastle, so far this season. It could well be a challenging night for Jamaal Lascelles and Karl Darlow, who started their careers at the club.
That said, they've conceded as many goals. There WILL be chances for United.
Up front, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez, left out against Hull, could well feature.
Rafa Benitez, while nursing a cold, was typically relaxed at his pre-match Press conference.
And, typically, he was giving little away about his team selection.
Benitez's side, tailed by Brighton and Hove Albion and Reading in the table, will do his talking tonight.