Gary McSheffrey looked every inch a Premiership player against Middlesbrough, as he tormented their defence with pace and trickery all afternoon.
Steve McClaren was forced to switch Stuart Parnaby to try and snuff out the threat of McSheffrey after he gave Matthew Bates a torrid time.
McSheffrey's only charitable act to Middlesbrough's overworked defence all day was to swap shirts with Parnaby at the end of the game. Their paths crossed as England Under-18 players and they have remained friends.
Nevertheless, their current international ambitions appear to be heading in a different direction.
The appointment of Steve Staunton, a former Coventry team-mate of McSheffrey's, as Republic of Ireland manager, has set the jungle drums beating furiously. And the 23-year-old confesses that he would welcome a phone call from Staunton regarding an international career with the Emerald Isle.
"If Steve invited me to play for him I would be honoured because he's a great man and I get on well with him," declared McSheffrey.
"I don't want to make it seem like I'm going to play because that's not the case. But my Dad's from Donegal and three of my grandparents are Irish, so it would be nice.
"Steve knows the craic with me. We played football together.
"Damien Duff is quality but international squads these days are 22-man squads, so you can only wish and hope you get involved one day.
"But I'm not ruling out Scotland either you know, because my Nan was Scottish. First come, first served!
"England is a long shot these days. Look at the players in the squad and they've got youth and the strikers are great.
"There is also Stewart Downing on the left wing coming up the rails. Realistically I'll probably look elsewhere.
"If someone comes in it would be great either way. But I don't want to make something out of nothing before anything actually happens."
McSheffrey was more concerned with next week's replay at the Riverside Stadium, which he believes they can approach with a degree of confidence.
Micky Adams' team were undoubtedly better value for a win than their Premiership guests and McSheffrey hopes it is an omen for better times ahead.
"We belong in the Premier-ship," he continued. "We are a decent club and our performances in the last couple of months have shown we are a decent team. We have to raise our levels and expectations now.
"We don't want to be a team in the bottom half of the Championship, as we are better than that.
"When we went a goal down it could have gone two ways. We could have crumbled.
"But we raised the tempo, the crowd got behind us and we took the game to them. We are gutted that we didn't win.
"Of late we've turned this place into a bit of a fortress. Our home form is top drawer and when we went a goal down I had a belief that we'd get back into it.
"It's a tough one to go up there and win. A lot of people say you don't get a second chance against a Premiership club, but we have to take confidence from this game."