Chris Hughton says games like this one teach him to take nothing for granted as he attempts to lead Newcastle back into the Premier League this season.
It looked an away banker, yet the visitors were two goals down at the break to strikes from Lewis Nyatanga and Nicky Maynard as a spirited Bristol City side threatened to give their new caretaker manager, Keith Millen, a dream start.
Second-half goals from Jonas Gutierrez and Andy Carroll rescued Newcastle and earned the Championship leaders a deserved point, but it was a relieved Hughton who spoke after the game.
"We would have been most people's favourites going into the game, but we didn't get the win we wanted and that just shows that feet need to be kept firmly on the ground," said the Newcastle manager.
"There is no question of setting a points target for reaching the Premier League. We focus on each game individually because they are all tough, as City proved today." Millen was understandably delighted with the passion shown by his players following the midweek departure of Gary Johnson, but played down his hopes of getting the job on a permanent basis.
"I am not thinking beyond Tuesday's home game with Barnsley," he said. "The first task is to get the couple of wins we still need to guarantee safety in the Championship.
"Today was not about me, it was about the club and the players. I couldn't have asked for more and there were some tired legs come the end."
Millen saw his team make a bright start with Danny Haynes going close twice in the opening five minutes, first with a header and then with a deflected shot. A 10th-minute foul by Wayne Routledge on Cole Skuse then prevented a Newcastle breakaway and led to the opening goal.
A training-ground routine saw City apparently mix up who was taking the free-kick, but Maynard knew exactly what was happening and drilled his shot through the wall. Newcastle's goalkeeper Steve Harper could not hold it and as the ball dribbled across the goal Nyatanga arrived ahead of the Newcastle defence to shoot home from point-blank range.
Bristol City doubled their lead after 44 minutes when Maynard chased a hopeful ball out of defence and turned to cut in from the left. He drilled an unstoppable shot past Harper, with the ball flying in off the inside of the far post.
A misjudged throw-out from the otherwise impressive goalkeeper Dean Gerken led to Newcastle pulling a goal back after 71 minutes as Gutierrez intercepted and ran through to score.
The incident turned the game. Four minutes later Routledge got behind the home defence to cross for Carroll to shoot home from close range, sparking wild celebrations among more than 2,000 Newcastle supporters.
It was no more than Newcastle deserved for their second-half dominance. But they were given a real fright.