Alex McLeish's controversial defection across Birmingham to Aston Villa already appears an afterthought after an unbeaten start to the season.
Since his shock exit from Villa's deadly rivals, McLeish has already released the shackles on his new squad and blown away the negativity that afflicted them during the end of Gerard Houllier's tortured reign.
Villa also possess a spirit that was sadly lacking under the Frenchman's bewildering regime and nobody epitomises the new-found fortitude more than Richard Dunne.
The Republic of Ireland international was included in the PFA's 2009/10 team of the year but then became persona non grata within the space of less than 12 months, suffering a serious slump in form.
But Dunne has been reborn since the departure of his nemesis and insists McLeish has given him a new lease of life as Villa prepare to take on Newcastle this weekend.
"Last season wasn't a good one. I didn't enjoy the season and I didn't enjoy coming into the place. I didn't enjoy the atmosphere around the whole club and I think it showed on the weekends," Dunne said.
"Coming back and working with a new manager and a different atmosphere has given some people a new lease of life. There is an enthusiasm around the place. What happened last year is in the past and we can all grow from it as a team.
"I think you can see already that we are not the soft touch that maybe we were last year."
Dunne has played a major role in Villa's stirring start to the campaign and the defensive solidity that became a hallmark in Martin O'Neill's last season has returned.
Newcastle also remain unbeaten and are among this season's surprise packages so far, their eight point tally pushing them up to fourth after their best start to a season for 15 years.
The Northeast club were tipped to struggle after a summer lacking any significant signings, while several high profile players left.
Despite that, they have confounded expectations, largely due to an impressive defensive record which has seen them keep three clean sheets from four games.
At the other end they have struggled to find the net, scoring just three goals.
Manager Alan Pardew is without injured trio Mike Williamson, Haris Vuckic and Hatem Ben Arfa as Newcastle look to stem a run of four consecutive defeats at Villa Park, their final day loss there in 2009 condemning them to relegation and a season in the Championship.
The manager's only likely change from the side that fought out a goalless draw at QPR is to drop under-performing forward Shola Ameobi in order to bolster the midfield, where Frenchman Sylvain Marveaux, Danny Guthrie or England Under-21 international Dan Gosling could come in.
"Defensively, all season we've done well. We've not been giving much away due to our organisation. There's a resilience and spirit within the group that makes it difficult for teams to beat us," Pardew said.
"I concede we need to threaten the other goal more, I'm aware of that. We were obviously looking to bring another striker in but it didn't happen. We have a good group of strikers, and it's up to them to take their chance now."
Source: AFP Global Edition