Newcastle United's supporters witnessed a glorious Premier League redemption led by a number nine for a new generation.
After all the strife and worry of recent years, this was a day of joyous celebration as Andy Carroll, a 21-year-old born on the banks of the River Tyne, led the rout of Aston Villa with a superb hat-trick that greatly enhanced his England credentials.
After the false start at Old Trafford, which had deepened apprehension at Newcastle's ability to cope in the rarefied air of the top flight, this was a superb riposte from the men in black and white.
Blowing away a side with pretensions of qualifying for the Champions League, Newcastle and Chris Hughton replenished pride and self-belief among their downtrodden supporters.
To be fair, belief is not something Carroll is lacking. The England under-21 forward was desperate to occupy the shirt worn with distinction by his idol Alan Shearer and in 180 top-flight minutes he has done enough to suggest he will be a worthy successor to the club's greatest ever goalscorer.
Carroll's greatest attribute is his majestic leap but there were two poachers' goals to burnish his reputation as a man with tidy feet too.
Carroll said: "It is an extra responsibility playing No 9 but I just enjoy playing my fotball, no matter where it is. I am just very happy to have scored a hat-trick."
Newcastle manager Chris Hughton was delighted as his players proved they can live at Premier League level with their biggest win in 11 years.
He said: "Andy's overall performance showed how he's been recently. He had a good pre-season and was excellent at Old Trafford on Monday. He's a lad who is very confident at the moment.
"He's very much a throwback and is good in the air and a handful for defenders. Ultimately he will be judged on his goals.
"It is too early to say how far he can go. He is developing his game and knows there are areas where he can improve. If you are prepared to do the hard work, you've got every chance.
"This was a wonderful achievement, but we are realistic. Days when you score six goals again the likes of Aston Villa don't come around too often. You can't be in this division and get this scoreline without enjoying it."
Shearer was a delighted spectator, along with the watching Paolo Baldini, and on current form it is only a matter of time before Carroll earns a senior call-up. The forthcoming Euro 2012 double-header in September may not be too soon.
How different this afternoon might have been if Aston Villa, buoyed by their opening-day victory over West Ham, had been able to capitalise on early Newcastle nerves.
Their pace was menacing and for the first ten minutes they looked irresistible. Indeed, it was the speed of Ashley Young that earned them a penalty on the nine-minute mark when, released by a Stylian Petrov pass, he was brought down by Steve Harper.
However, John Carew blazed the penalty over the bar – allowing Newcastle a second chance that they greedily accepted.
Within three minutes, they were in front as Joey Barton, sporting a Wing Commander moustache, unleashed a 20-yard drive that dipped to beat Brad Friedel. The midfielder promised to shave off his facial hair once Newcastle won this season and was as good as his word seconds after the final whistle.
Barton said: "There are a few of the lads desperate to get it off. It is either the end of my moustache or the end of my relationship, so I'm glad it is going."
He acted quickly last night to explain the celebration that followed his goal.
Barton raised an arm in the air and pointed to his moustache, sparking internet rumours that he had performed a Hitler impersonation.
However, he explained: "I was simply saying to the fans that the moustache was going."
Kevin Nolan added an excellent second an the half-hour mark – stooping low to beat Friedel with a header after the American had parried his effort effort – before the first of Carroll's three, which was prodded home from close range.
His second after half-time was a fine driven volley before Nolan's second and then a simple third added gloss to a terrific performance.
For Newcastle fans, goaded by their Villa counterparts on the day they were relegated in 2009, it was something close to the perfect afternoon.
However, it was a goal rush that might just have washed away any hopes that Kevin McDonald had of securing the Aston Villa job on a permanent basis.
He had won admirers for the quiet, confident way he had helmed the club in the wake of Martin O'Neill's departure but was badly let down by his players. They were a shambles and even Stephen Ireland's debut could not prevent a black-and-white midfield domination that raised a fresh set of questions about their decision to let James Milner depart for Manchester City. The caretaker wore a forlorn look at what played out.
MacDonald said: "Newcastle are a decent side with a lot of experience and took their chances well. Maybe I was a bit naive in my selection. I played two youngsters again and maybe two games in a week was too much for them.
"This has not made any difference to me personally. It was nice that people said nice things about me last week, but this is the other side. I didn't think I was fantastic then, I don't think I'm bad now."
Newcastle United 4-4-1-1: Harper; Perch, Williamson, Coloccini, Enrique; Routledge (Ameobi, 76), Barton, Smith (Taylor, 76), Gutierrez (Xisco, 81); Nolan; Carroll. Substitutes not used Krul (gk), Lovenkrands, Vuckic, Tavernier.
Booked Perch, Smith, Barton.
Aston Villa 4-4-2: Friedel; Young, Dunne, Clark (Beye, 89), Warnock; Albrighton (Heskey, 58), Petrov, Ireland, Downing; Young, Carew (Reo-Coker, 65). Substitutes not used Guzan (gk), Delfouneso, Lichaj, Bannan.
Man of the match Carroll.
Possession Newcastle 60%, Aston Villa 40%.
Shots on target Newcastle 13, Aston Villa 1.
Referee M Atkinson. ......... Attendance 43,546.
Match rating 8/10.Reuse content