ELEVEN days ago, Sunderland were beaten at home for the first time this season when Blackpool secured a 2-0 win at the Stadium of Light.
That day, Black Cats boss Steve Bruce was left scratching his head in disbelief, wondering how his side hadn't won a match in which they created 32 chances on goal.
Barely two weeks later and after another home defeat, Bruce was again scratching his head after seeing his Premier League side dumped out of the FA Cup by League One side Notts County.
This time, though, it wasn't a case of Sunderland losing a game they had dominated from start to finish. Instead, it was a poor, lacklustre performance that saw them deservedly beaten by a team they should have brushed aside with ease.
Goals in each half from Craig Westcarr and Lee Hughes were enough to secure Paul Ince's side a place in the hat for the fourth-round draw, despite Darren Bent's late consolation penalty.
Ince's men, nicknamed the Magpies, made the Black Cats look nothing like a side currently flying high in sixth spot in the Premier League, and if Bruce's men put in a similar performance next week when they play the other Magpies, there could well be a repeat of last Halloween's events.
Saturday's defeat was hardly ideal preparation for what is to come on Sunday, and with that in mind, Bruce warned his squad after the game there would be big changes ahead of the derby at the Stadium of Light.
If I'm being honest, the side which plays Newcastle won't resemble the one that lost here, said the Black Cats boss.
However, that does not discard my real thoughts about today. We've lost to Notts County at home in the FA Cup and that hurts.
You have to say we were pathetic and deserved nothing. Pathetic. It was bad from the off, they scored after four minutes and the two goals just summed up our afternoon.
No disrespect to Notts County, but they shouldn't be coming to a Premier League ground and scoring two goals. They've done that and they are bad goals that we've given away. Awful.
We've got eight days to prepare for Newcastle so we'll do all the preparation we can. It's not a case of wrapping anyone up in cotton wool. One thing I can guarantee is that we'll be ready for next week.
Bruce's side, albeit a weakened one through injuries, should have been strong enough to see the Black Cats through to the next round, but straight away a cup upset looked probable, especially after the visitors took a surprise lead within five minutes.
Simon Mignolet, in for the rested Craig Gordon, gifted Notts County the lead when he failed to hold on to the ball after Westcarr had flicked on Ben Davies' left-wing cross.
Facing £23m worth of strikers, Ince's men might have expected an onslaught from the Black Cats attack, but the reality was different and despite Andy Reid and Asamoah Gyan going close to equalising before the break, the home side matched a woeful firsthalf performance with equally poor finishing.
Midway through the second- half, Bruce introduced Ahmed Elmohamady and Jordan Henderson in a bid to draw level. Henderson, in particular, made a difference and immediately began pulling strings in midfield, but Sunderland recorded just two shots on target all afternoon.
Steed Malbranque blasted a fierce shot wide before blazing another across goal, while an unmarked Darren Bent headed wide from a great position.
Then, in the 75th minute, the away fans were in dreamland and Bruce was left bemoaning calamitous defending again.
Hughes received the ball just outside the area and turned impressively to leave Paulo Da Silva stranded. His initial shot was well saved by Mignolet but the Black Cats were caught sleeping and after failing to clear their lines, the ball fell to Hughes again and the controversial striker finished from a tight angle.
The Wearsiders never looked like getting back into the game, even when Bent thrashed in an 81st-minute penalty after Reid had been fouled by Ricky Ravenhill.
With a long injury list, Bruce is looking to bring in a couple of faces during this month's transfer window, and is hoping he will have at least two of his seven injured players back for the visit of Newcastle.
(Nedum) Onuoha might be back and we'll see how (Lee) Cattermole is too, but I doubt it as far as he's concerned, said Bruce.
They're the only two who have half a chance.
We are threadbare but we still should have had enough (against Notts County). For me, the disappointing thing is watching those international players. They were simply nowhere near nowhere near the level that was required.
Match factrs Goals: 0-1: (Westcarr 5, Mignolet failed to keep hold off the ball after Westcarr flicked on Davies' left-sided cross)
0-2: (Hughes, 75, Mignolet saved his initial shot but Sunderland failed to clear and Hughes finished from a tight angle)
1-2: (Bent, 81, the striker kept his cool to finish from the spot)
Bookings: Nelson (90, time wasting), Bishop (90, unsporting behaviour)
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Nuneaton) - Didn't let play flow at times but right with the penalty and not to award a foul on Mignolet for the first goal 7
NOTTS COUNTY (4-1-3-2):
Nelson 6; Edwards 7, Thompson 7, Ravenhill 6, Pearce 7; Bishop 7; Davies 7, Judge 6 (Hunt 79), Harley 7 (Hawley 90); Hughes 7 (Woods 85), WESTCARR 8.
Subs (not used): Mitchell, Lee, Burgess, Sodje.
4 Mignolet: At fault for Notts County's first goal, where he let go of the ball too easily
4 Angeleri: Worrying that he looked so out-of-depth against a League One side
4 Ferdinand: Made to look very ordinary by Hughes and Westcarr
4 Da Silva: Turned far too easily by Hughes in the run up to Notts County's second goal.
5 Richardson: Did threaten going forward but at times defended poorly
6 Malbranque: Did have a hand in creating chances but missed a couple of his own
4 Colback: Didn't enjoy his return and looked lost at times in the centre 4Riveros: Struggled to make any impact on the game, guilty of giving away possession.
5 Reid: Caused problems with his crosses but was also guilty of giving away the ball
6 Bent: Took his penalty well but missed several other game-changing chances
5 Gyan: Had a quiet game but guilty of missing a great chance to equalise
Elmohamady (for Riveros, 60): Created several chances after coming on and almost scored with a header 6 HENDERSON (for Colback, 60):
Instantly made an impact. Sunderland looked far more dangerous after he came on 7
Bardsley (for Angeleri, 70) (not used): Carson, Reed, Adams, Bramble.
MAN OF THE MATCH
CRAIG Westcarr Got the ball rolling with a clever flick and caused problems all day alongside Hughes.