Alan Pardew is hoping striker Papiss Cisse will return to last season's form to fire Newcastle out of trouble.
The Senegal international gave the Magpies a second-minute lead over Everton with his sixth goal of the season as compatriot Demba Ba closed in on his move to Chelsea last night.
However, it was not enough to prevent his side from slipping to a ninth defeat in 11 Barclays Premier League games as the visitors hit back to snatch a 2-1 victory.
But as the club launched the search for Ba's replacement, Pardew challenged Cisse to rediscover the touch which brought him 13 goals in 14 appearances following his arrival on Tyneside 12 months ago.
Asked if the former Freiburg frontman was relishing the role of main man, he said: "I think so, and we are hoping he has the second half of the year he had last year, where he was absolutely terrific for us and scoring goals for fun.
"That's where we need to get him."
Newcastle could have gone in at the break with a commanding lead having forced their way ahead through Cisse's looping header.
They went close to a second when James Perch's header came back off the inside of the post on the half-hour, but worse was to follow two minutes before half-time.
Fabricio Coloccini was harshly adjudged to have fouled Marouane Fellaini 30 yards out, but Leighton Baines was merciless as he smashed home the resulting free-kick.
But where there had been little to choose between the sides before the break, it was the visitors who dominated after it and they got their reward on the hour when substitute Victor Anichebe, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes, turned Nikica Jelavic's cross past keeper Tim Krul to win it.
Pardew, who hopes to clinch the signing of Lille full-back Mathieu Debuchy during the next 48 hours - the France international was among the crowd for last night's game - has been forced to contend with a crippling injury crisis, and a fixture list which sent his side to Manchester United and Arsenal before their clash with the high-flying Toffees.
He said: "There's no doubt that when we get our best side out, we are a quality team, but we haven't had it out all year and we probably can't expect to have it out.
"We need to get as many as we can out and start winning games. It will be easier if we have lesser opposition than the three games we have had just recently, because they have been really tough back to back, all three of those."
Everton boss David Moyes left Tyneside looking at the opposite end of the table and contemplating a very different second half of the season.
He said: "I just hope we are strong finishers because we have been in the main a good second-half-of-the-season team. If we do that, then we will try to compete with the teams near the top end.
"Whether we will have enough or whether we will be good enough, time will tell."