There was no joyous ovation, no mention of him over the PA and little interaction with the home support – it was as if Ian Holloway had never set foot inside Bloomfield Road before.
But of course, the Crystal Palace manager had. Blackpool's most successful coach since the 1950s oversaw the town's monumental rise to stardom and is adored in these parts. But such is the precarious position the Seasiders find themselves in towards the bottom of the Championship, the fans were in no mood to glorify the hero's return with so much as a glance in his direction.
That was until Matt Phillips scored a stunning winner with five minutes left. They were quite happy to engage the opposing manager then after their 10 men courageously battled for a crucial three points.
"I can't find the words to describe how happy I am with that performance," manager Paul Ince beamed. "On our day we can beat anybody and our fans were fantastic."
Holloway remained subdued throughout – possibly through respect to his old employers – but was startled at the state of the playing surface he left behind when moving south to Selhurst Park in November: "I don't know what on earth has happened to that pitch. You can't play football on it."
A game of this magnitude is what Blackpool needed to lift themselves away from danger. They showed the type of character and attacking verve that saw them labelled as promotion favourites when demolishing all in sight earlier in the season. Ince's side – trying to prove a point to their old boss – enjoyed the best of it, missing a number of chances before Barry Ferguson's stupidity saw him sent off before half-time.
Already booked, the midfielder blocked Yannick Bolasie's path when bearing down on goal.
That might have changed the game's complexion, but Blackpool – presumably possessing knowledge that the majority of rivals around them were winning – kept on pressing.
Even with a numerical advantage, Palace were poor, allowing Tom Ince to cut inside to find Phillips. The pass bobbled on the hideous surface but Phillips had only one thing on his mind – to swing a right leg from 25 yards. It flew in. The roof flew off.
Automatic promotion looks a stretch for Holloway now, who will have to settle for a third play-off campaign in as many seasons at this level. "This is our worst run and it's the wrong time to have it," he said. "But that shouldn't have been a defeat."
Blackpool (4-3-3): Gilks; Baptiste, Broadfoot, Mackenzie, Crainey; Basham, Ferguson, Sylvestre (Osbourne, 86) ; Phillips, Delfouneso (Eardley, 90), Ince (Derbyshire, 90). Substitutes not used Halstead, Eardley, Grandin, Angel, Futacs.
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1) Speroni; Richards, Ramage, Delaney, Parr; Dikgacoi (Moritz, 71), Jedinak; Bolasie, Dobbie (Williams, 71), Zaha; Murray. Substitutes not used Price, Ward, Marrow, Wilbraham, Gabbidon.
Referee A Haines (Tyne and Wear).Reuse content