Alan Pardew last night claimed his Newcastle players had finally clicked into top gear during a convincing Europa League victory over Bordeaux.
The Magpies moved to the top of Group D as they inflicted the French club's first defeat in 18 matches thanks to goals from Shola Ameobi
and Papiss Cisse
and an own goal from Henrique.
In the wake of last weekend's 2-2 draw at Reading, Pardew admitted his players were struggling to reproduce the form that carried them to fifth in the Premier League last season.
However, their biggest win of the current campaign was accompanied by a performance that was much more in keeping with the club's best efforts from the last couple of years.
"I've been critical about our performances, more so in the dressing room than in the press", said Pardew.
"I wanted us to play with more verve, energy and ambition and I thought we did that against a side that hadn't been beaten for 17 games."
"The goals hurt them and gave us a platform to play as well as we did.
I'm pleased with the way we approached the game and saw it out."
"Our control of the ball was good and our passing was terrific."
"There's so much to be pleased about, and we didn't have to work as hard as I thought we would. You don't want a helter-skelter game when you've got Manchester United
three days later."
caught the eye on his return from a two-game absence, but the Frenchman vied for the man-of-the-match honours with his compatriot Gabriel Obertan
The former Bordeaux winger set up Ameobi's opener with a rapid run down the left and caused problems with his pace and direct running all night.
He has flattered to deceive since making a £3m move from Manchester United, but Pardew feels too much is sometimes expected of a player who is still to turn 24.
"People sometimes have strange memories about players", he said.
"When we were unbeaten in the first ten games of last season, Gabriel played in every one of them and I thought he was excellent."
"He had a little difficult spell, but he's only young and is still learning about the game.
He played on his wrong side because we thought there might be a technical advantage there and he exploited it."
"He has pace that frightens teams and is getting better all the time.
I think people's expectations of him are too high. They want him to race past the full-back every time but if he did that, the full-back would know what he was going to do."
"He has to mix it up. He has to get the balance right, and I thought he did that tonight."
Pardew's strong team selection confirmed Newcastle's commitment to the Europa League cause, and the convincing victory should generate confidence ahead of Sunday's home game with Manchester United.
"I wanted to make it clear to our fans that we take every game seriously", said Pardew.
The Maritimo team I selected was a team to win that game, and I thought we should have done."
"I had to put a stronger team out here because of the strength of the opposition."
"But we still managed to spare (Jonas) Gutierrez, (Demba) Ba, (Hatem) Ben Arfa and (Davide) Santon and we are going to need them."
"It is difficult to reach the physical levels we need in the Premier League on the back of a European game, but on this occasion, I think we should be able to do it."