Newcastle United fell to defeat on the road to Manchester City on Saturday night, however the 2-0 scoreline was much better then what most Toon fans expected going into the game.
Having failed to win in their previous three matches, the pressure was starting to mount on the players and in particular manager Steve Bruce and as much as City dominated proceedings at the Etihad Stadium the Magpies did manage to keep the score down without creating many clear-cut chances of their own.
Bruce has given his reaction to the match, speaking to NUFC TV after the game...
"I couldn't ask for any more."
Bruce's Magpies have received a lot of criticism in recent weeks following a number of poor performances, with the effort and endeavour from a number of players being questioned.
The Newcastle boss felt that there could be no question about these aspects of the game on this occasion with him picking out Fabian Schär and Federico Fernandez as two examples after they have been one of the unlucky few at the club to have suffered with Covid-19 in recent weeks.
Bruce did admit that the team weren't good enough on the night but it's always going to be difficult to even match the levels of Pep Guardiola's City side who are now beginning to get more consistency in their game.
But the application from all eleven players was much improved from the midweek Carabao Cup defeat at Brentford which left the Toon boss with something positive to take forwards.
"The players gave me everything."
Teams always travel to the Etihad Stadium knowing that they will spend a lot of the time without the ball - Newcastle only had 24% of the ball but they're not the first team to suffer that and they certainly won't be the last.
On their day, Manchester City can look like the best team in Europe and the quality of player they have at their disposal certainly makes that look possible.
But from Newcastle's point of view Bruce felt that his players went about their business in a professional manner, creating a couple of chances with the best one being when Joelinton flicked a header on that was just out of reach for the stretching Schär.
Defending is also going to be a key part to any form of success against City and Newcastle did do this relatively well to be fair to them, with Karl Darlow also making some good saves in goal.
"Karl Darlow is an excellent goalkeeper."
Darlow came into the side at the start of the 2020/21 Premier League season after usual number one Martin Dubravka was badly injured in the summer.
But after Darlow's recent displays in the Newcastle goal, Dubravka will certainly have to do something special to get back into the team upon his imminent return to fitness.
Darlow, the former Nottingham Forest shot-stopper, wasn't as busy as he perhaps would have expected on Saturday evening but when he was called upon he made a number of excellent saves, the standout being when he spread himself well to deny Sergio Aguero from close range.
Bruce feels that he is privileged to work with two top-quality goalkeepers at the club.
"Most of us are getting through it."
The Newcastle manager made several changes ahead of this clash at the Etihad so was unsurprisingly questioned about his thinking on those differences to the starting line-up.
Bruce did reveal that the virus outbreak on the training ground hasn't helped some of his players, particularly those who suffered and are still feeling fatigued even now.
However it does now seem that most players are coming through it and should be available in the coming days and weeks with Jamaal Lascelles returning to light training this week.
Allan Saint-Maximin remains the only first-team star with doubt surrounding him with there still being no sign of the French attacker.
"We'll give it our best shot."
The upcoming fixtures don't get any easier for the Magpies with Liverpool to come next, followed by another tough home game against Leicester City.
After putting in a better than expected performance against Manchester City, Bruce wants his side to have a go at Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool on Wednesday night.
Bruce knows that only their best showing will give his team a chance against the Reds but did admit that only the best will often do in the Premier League.
There is no doubt that the Magpies will be looking forward to getting these tough fixtures out of the way and they will also be hoping that they still find themselves in a safe league position come January.