As entrances go, it couldn't have turned out better for Roy Keane. As a celebration of the final League game at a 99-year-old stadium, it could barely have fallen flatter.
Ipswich Town's new manager has to wait at least another 12 months for even a sniff of promotion but, for now, he can and will be heartened by this thoroughly professional victory that left Cardiff City waiting a bit longer and more nervously to secure their play-off place.
That Jon Stead, a striker Keane sold on Wearside, should make two goals and score one was one of those delicious ironies. What few could have foreseen, though, was how straightforward it all became in one of the Championship's renowned hot-houses.
"I know what Steady can do," the Irishman said. "People are quick to say I sold him but we were near the bottom of the Championship at the time and a Premier League club came in, so how could I stand in his way? We came up with some good goals here and showed character but, much as I'm delighted, it's only a start."
Clad in trademark short coat and chewing with Fergie-like monotony, Keane witnessed a performance that grew in authority from the moment Cardiff's nerves were exposed by the squandering of what, remarkably, was their 19th penalty of the season.
Ivan Campo gave Roger Johnson a ridiculously blatant shove while stretching for Chris Burke's early cross but Richard Wright bailed him out with a brilliant save low to his right from Ross McCormack.
While there was an immediate impact from some of Keane's new charges, others were left needing to try again, Alex Bruce, the son of one of those so-called less than successful Premier League managers, going off with a dislocated thumb midway through the first half.
Following Cardiff's strong start, Pablo Counago opened the scoring when he finished decisively after Bruce's replacement Stead did well to hold off Gabor Gyepes and pull back from the right. The first and briefly acknowledged chant of "Keano, Keano, give us a wave" was not far behind and the tide had turned by the time Ipswich doubled their lead, David Norris rifling in from 20 yards from Stead's 50th-minute lay-back.
Although Eddie Johnson brought another fine save from Wright, Cardiff were counted out when Campo's late free-kick curled against the post and Stead turned in the rebound.
Dave Jones sidestepped the media conference to watch Preston North End's televised game at Birmingham City and presumably start planning an end to Cardiff's sudden slide.
At the same time, Roy Keane, 142 days on from his Sunderland walk-out, was very much back. So, by the way, was that stubble.