It might not have seemed like it judging by the result but Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill had good cause to come away from St James' Park on Wednesday night, feeling pretty satisfied at the sight of his two new strikers.
Ashley Young scored on his debut in the 3-1 defeat to Newcastle United and John Carew's name should have been on the scoresheet but for a harsh refereeing decision.
There is the prospect of another frontline player to be added to the mix in the form of deadline signing Shaun Maloney but that only serves to counter-balance the cloudy view on O'Neill's oldest favourite, Chris Sutton.
One of the main reasons he felt the need to bring in Carew has been the blurred-vision problem suffered by Sutton.
It was Sutton's only goal to date for O'Neill's men, at Goodison Park in early November — which briefly lifted Villa to third in the table — that capped his highly encouraging start in claret and blue colours.
But the much-travelled striker has been out since Boxing Day following the bang he took on the head in the pre-Christmas Saturday defeat to Manchester United. Five weeks on, there has not been any sign of improvement. "Chris is seeing a specialist again this week," O'Neill said. "But his progress has been slow and he's been a big miss for us."
Sutton's former England team-mate, Paul Scholes, suffered a similar injury last season during the Christmas period and was not fit to return until the final day of the campaign. O'Neill is clearly concerned that Sutton might be out of action for just as long.
"His eyesight's still blurred," he said. "Although it's just in the one eye, he said to me this week that, if his other eye was like that too, he'd be in a spot of bother.
"They think it will heal naturally. He's still not able to drive but he can do most day-to-day things and he wants to come back and do some light training, non-contact stuff, to keep his fitness up. But we don't know for how long he will be out."
O'Neill can console himself that, while Sutton was only ever a short-term solution, he has a long-term answer in Carew and Young to help solve the problem of stoking a forward line that has relied too often this season on the pace of Gabriel Agbonlahor.
"Gabby has been brilliant," he said. "Even at times when we might have felt he needed a rest had we got a bigger squad, he would never have been left out through loss of form. But we possessed a real threat going forward at Newcastle which we hadn't done this season and I was delighted with the overall performance."
O'Neill took Carew off with 20 minutes to go, after the Norwegian felt the effects of his first match in almost two months. "He's not played for a long time," O’Neill said. "Although he'd got cramp, I'd have taken him off anyway after about 70 minutes."
Of most annoyance was that Carew did not match Young's feat of marking his first match with a goal, after referee Howard Webb chalked off his second-half header for a case of shirt-tugging on Antoine Sibierski that looked more a case of six and two threes. "I wasn't best pleased," O'Neill said. "It was a big moment and it was a goal, plain and simple, or rather it wasn't but, if anyone was doing the fouling it was Sibierski."
Villa have been hit by a potential fixture famine over the next month. After tomorrow's home date with West Ham United, for whom Matthew Upson will make his debut, they go to Reading the following week but they are without a game on February 17, FA Cup fifth-round weekend while the home game with Arsenal scheduled for January 24 has had to be cancelled as the Gunners are in the Carling Cup final the following day.
After playing Reading on February 10, Villa will not be in action until they go to Fulham on March 3. Unless they can slot in a new date to play Arsenal, Villa fans will go six weeks without a home game between this Saturday and Fulham on March 18.