Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson insisted there was no need for panic after seeing his title-chasers humbled at Newcastle.
The Magpies ensured that arch rivals Manchester City remain three points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League by beating the champions 3-0 on Tyneside as the run of surprise results for the main contenders over the holiday period continued.
However, Ferguson was taking a measured approach when asked about the impact of a potentially costly defeat, and told Sky Sports: "It's not a time to panic or anything like that. We have got the experience to cope with that."
He added: "Losing a game at this time of the year, you don't want it, but it sometimes can happen - you have seen some of the results recently. But obviously, we need to get the show on the road in terms of the run-in, particularly in March and April."
Striker Demba Ba, who was little short of unplayable in his last game for the club before heading off to the African Nations Cup with Senegal, blasted the home side ahead with a delicious 33rd-minute volley - his 15th goal of the season.
Two minutes of the restart when Yohan Cabaye curled a superb free-kick home off the underside of the bar, and Ferguson added: "It was a marvellous hit on the volley, and the second one just after half-time was the killer for us. It was a marvellous strike from the free-kick. But we didn't make enough of our possession of the ball anyway. It was one of those nights."
United's misery was complete in the final minute of the game when Phil Jones he could only bundle keeper Tim Krul's long free-kick into his own net having wrong-footed keeper Anders Lindegaard.
Magpies boss Alan Pardew admitted the loss of Ba and Cheick Tiote will be huge, but remains confident his squad has what it will take to maintain the fight for the seventh position they currently occupy.
Asked if Ba in particular is irreplaceable, he said: "You could argue that, but we thought that about Andy Carroll last year and we didn't do too badly without him. I am not going to hide away from the fact that Cheick and Demba were probably the two outstanding players on the pitch for us.
"They were going away - whether that was part of an extra motivation for them and the champions were here. We are going to miss them - I can't hide from that. But what a way to go out. We will look forward to seeing them in six games' time or whenever it is."