By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
For Dan Gosling, Saturday's fixture against Manchester United was a first Barclays Premier League start in nearly 28 months.
But even a return to the Newcastle United starting line-up was unable to raise a smile from the midfielder, as the Magpies went down 4-0 to the reigning champions at St. James' Park.
Considering his lack of regular game time over the last couple of years, Gosling looked bright on another difficult afternoon for United, and the former Plymouth youngster revealed he had never given up hope of playing an important part for Alan Pardew's side.
"It's been a long time coming," he told nufc.co.uk of his return, having last started a top flight match at Norwich in December 2011.
"I felt a bit leggy towards the end but I was pleased with my contribution. It's just a shame about the result.
"It's been a tough couple of years, battling with the other guys for the midfield positions. I've always worked hard in training and slowly but surely I've got there again.
"I've got my chance again but I would rather be talking to you now about the team winning rather than just me starting a match."
Juan Mata struck twice for the visitors on Saturday, while Javier Hernandez and Adnan Januzaj were also on target as David Moyes' side eased to all three points on Tyneside.
But that failed to tell the full story of a fixture where Newcastle more than matched their opponents for large parts of the first half, creating the better chances, and only fell behind through Mata's first moment of magic.
"It's a quiet dressing room in there because we are all so disappointed," explained Gosling.
"I feel the first half was very tight. Papiss had a couple of chances and a great header saved.
"It was tight until they got a decision that went their way. I'm not sure it was a foul as I felt I had played a bit of the ball, and then Mata has put the free-kick in the top corner, which you can do nothing about.
"At 1-0 the game is still very much alive, we came out for the second half with a game plan but conceded a very sloppy goal.
"Against a good team like Manchester United, it's very tough to come back from that.
"It's not nice to concede four goals two weeks running but at Southampton we deserved it.
"Today, I don't think 4-0 did the game justice. The first half was very tight and if we had got the first goal, or gone in goalless at half-time, then it could have been a very different game."