Suspicion, a staking-out of territory, and office politics on a very public level are the central themes to Newcastle United's pre-season build-up.
The moment owner Mike Ashley parachuted Joe Kinnear into the mix at St James's Park and made him Director of Football, the intrigue started.
Pardew hid under the bed for a month, but came out smiling saying: "Joe Kinnear Director of Football? I don't think so!"
Over in Mackemland Paolo Di Canio has signed TEN PLAYERS, he is running players back to fitness, bedding in a new playing system, and signing new players to create some excitement and anticipation.
But they do things slightly differently at St James's Park. You could generously call it creative tension.
How the Pardew/Kinnear dynamic works over the next few weeks and months will determine if the club lurches towards the wilderness again, beset by turmoil and unrest.
The key lies in Kinnear's behaviour.
It's clear he's a spy in the camp for Ashley, who lost a degree of trust for Pardew last season with the relegation fright, but he knows it will take £10.5m to get him out.
Ashley drummed up the idea of giving Pardew a eight and a half contract, and now he is trying to undo it.
If Pardew walks - and Ashley is doing EVERYTHING in his power to piss him off - he saves himself £10.5m.
But the Toon boss is digging in for a hell of a fight.
Is Kinnear after Pardew's job? Of course he is.
He'd gladly take over from Pardew tomorrow. He is effectively the head of a shadow management team should Pardew be axed early this season.
Is Kinnear skillful enough to tip-toe through the complexities of the modern transfer system and actually sign big name players? In fact, can he even say their names properly?
Newcastle are the only top flight team yet to add a senior star to their ranks.
Kinnear is a footballing dinosaur, ill-suited to the strategic, contact driven, skillfull world of deal-making of 2013.
Kinnear is, though, one of the few men to have a close and trusting bond with Ashley. Hours of drinking and chatting at the Orange Tree pub in Totteridge Village, on the outskirts of London, assured that when Joe talks, Mike listens.
Can Pardew and Kinnear work as an effective team? Of course not.
And Mike Ashley's waning interest in Newcastle is causing panic waves in and around St James' Park.
Note: Ashely took back £11 million of his £140 million of loans in the last accounts, ensuring that rather than show a profit, the club broke even.
Clear lines have yet to be drawn.
The further Kinnear stays away from the players on a day to day level, the simpler things will be. But what was the point in trying to bring in coach Mick Harford to be assistant to Kinnear?
That was a move to INVOLVE Kinnear on the traing pitch ... with "Big Bad" Mick at his side.
Kinnear (as sure as God made little apples) will poke his nose in, and start to wield the influence that has him telling folk he is in charge of "all footballing matters."
Pardew has tried to defend his owncorner, but Kinnear has been telling everyone at the club that he "only answers to Mike."
And that is the only comment made by Kinnear in recent weeks that is the TRUTH!
The flash-point will come. Newcastle's season, and Pardew's future, will hinge on how it is resolved.
Meanwhile we await Kinnear's genius - after all he said he's more intelligent that the fans.RIO AVE 3 NEWCASTLE UTD 1
RIO AVE: Ederson, Tarantini, Hassan, Diego, Braga, Vilas Boas, Dias, Marcelo, Lionn, Del Valle, Wakaso.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Alnwick (Elliot, 46); Santon (Williamson, 70), S Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Dummett; Cabaye (Tiote, 46), Anita (Campbell, 76); Marveaux (Obertan, 46), Vuckic (Sissoko, 46), Gutierrez (Sammy Ameobi, 46); Gouffran (Shola Ameobi, 62).
Alan Pardew's men travelled to Portugal without star striker Papiss Cisse, who was left behind amid a disagreement with the club over his refusal to wear kit sponsored by loan company Wonga.
And Newcastle's lack of firepower proved telling as Rio Ave seized the initiative to seal a comfortable win.
Pardew plumped for a mix of youth and experience in his starting XI, with inexperienced goalkeeper Jak Alnwick and full-back Paul Dummett named alongside the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Steven Taylor and Jonas Gutierrez.
This game probably gave Pardew more questions than answers, and it will be a 45 minutes that Jak Alnwick will not forget.
Managers always play down the importance of such games, saying the result doesn't matter, the performance does ... but if Pardew is looking for positions he needs to strengthen ... he could include goalkeeper.
Tim Krul is still fighting to recover from the injury he picked up against the Mackems months ago, and Rob Elliott is not a player I'd put in the same class as others who have worn the goalkeeper's shirt - he ain't no Pavel or Shay.
Do we need cover there? You tell me!
United started slowly, and quickly found themselves two goals behind, with Egyptian striker Ahmed Hassan netting a quick-fire double in the first nine minutes.
Newcastle's worries only increased, and after 26 minutes they were 3-0 behind as midfielder Braga scrambled home from close range.
The visitors did improve somewhat as the half wore on, and will have felt unlucky not to have cut the deficit as a Cabaye effort rattled the crossbar four minutes before the break shortly after Ederson had produced a fine diving save to deny Sylvain Marveaux.
Pardew made five changes during the interval, with Rob Elliott, Sammy Ameobi, Moussa Sissoko, Gabriel Obertan and Cheick Tiote all introduced into the action.
The alterations had an impact, with Yoan Gouffran shooting wide after good work down the right from Obertan after 57 minutes.
It was Gouffran's eventual replacement that would haul Newcastle back into the game however, as Shola Ameobi steered in Obertan's right-wing cross to reduce the arrears with 14 minutes to play.
The game ended sourly for the striker, though, as he was taken to hospital afterwards for x-rays on an arm injury, which forced him off.
Newcastle could not complete the comeback, though, and it was the hosts who wasted a chance to have the final say, substitute Sandro Lima seeing his penalty saved by Rob Elliot four minutes from the end after he had been bundled over by Mike Williamson.
WE TELL IT AS IT IS - NO BULLSHIT!
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Pacos Ferreira (A) July 23Blackpool (A) July 29St Mirren (A) July 31Rangers (A) August 6Braga (H) August 10
RIO AVE 3 NEWCASTLE 1 (Shola Ameobi)
Alnwick (Elliot, 46); Santon (Williamson, 70), S Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Dummett; Cabaye (Tiote, 46), Anita (Campbell, 76); Marveaux (Obertan, 46), Vuckic (Sissoko, 46), Gutierrez (Sammy Ameobi, 46); Gouffran (Shola Ameobi, 62).
MOTHERWELL 2 NEWCASTLE 4 (Vuckic, Gouffran, Sissoko, Marveaux)
Elliot; Tavernier, Williamson (S Taylor, 46), Yanga-Mbiwa (Streete, 82), Dummett; Sissoko (Abeid, 68), Anita (Amalfitano, 82); Obertan (Ferguson, 74), Vuckic (Marveaux, 46), Sammy Ameobi (Richardson, 82), Gouffran (Campbell, 58). Sub not used: Alnwick.
Source: Newcastle United Mad