A slapstick defensive display saw Alan Pardew’s side hammered 4-0 by Manchester City in their first game of the season, but Newcastle’s improvement has been incomprehensibly rapid since then.
In their last five league games they have beaten Cardiff, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, drawn with Liverpool, and lost a narrow Tyne-Wear derby at Sunderland.
Their form is good enough to suggest that the Magpies could claim a top-six place, which they are currently priced at 25/1 to achieve.
Alan Pardew’s side have had harder fixtures than in the 2011-12 campaign, already playing five of last season’s top seven.
At this point in 2011 Newcastle had 25 points and sat third in the table, but they benefitted from an incredibly easy run of matches.
In their first 11 games they played seven teams who ended up in the bottom half of the division, with home games against Spurs and Arsenal, both of which they drew, their only significant challenges.
This time around the Magpies have had far trickier opponents to date and in their next seven games they play only two teams currently above them in the table, giving them the perfect chance to further their top six claims.
Despite their difficult start, Newcastle are just three points off the top six, and all the sides ahead of them have shown plenty of inconsistency.
With five of last season’s top seven dropping points at the weekend, the Premier League again demonstrated what an unpredictable beast it is proving to be this campaign.
Arsenal and Spurs showed old frailties in their losses, while Chelsea no longer look impervious at home and Manchester City continue to underwhelm away.
All of the sides currently competing for the top six have shown weaknesses this term, and Newcastle could well profit from their profligacy.
The Toon have proved to be masters of the winter transfer window in recent campaigns, bringing in six players last season.
Joe Kinnear rightly drew criticism for the Magpies poor showing in the transfer market over the summer, with just Loic Remy arriving on loan to show for their efforts.
However, last season Newcastle proved it was possible to do fine work in January, snaring Moussa Sissoko, Mathieu Debuchy, Yoann Gouffran and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa among others.
The year before a winter swoop for Papiss Cisse fired them into fifth place and of all the top sides they have proven especially adept at key signings in the January window.