It is less than a year ago that Newcastle Under-21 side played Sunderland in the third round of the EFL Trophy, with both sides enjoying good runs in the competition.
Sunderland, of course, made it to the final at Wembley, while Newcastle’s youngsters lost to their Wearside rivals, but did well to reach the last eight of the Northern Section.
This year’s competition has seen a complete contrast in fortunes for both sides, however, with neither Newcastle U21s or Sunderland making it out of the group stages.
With only a solitary win between them – Sunderland beat Grimsby 3-2 – it has been a disastrous tournament, and it epitomises the underwhelming season so far for each team.
Newcastle’s young side made a patchy start to the season, with an awful run being followed by a slight upturn in fortunes in Premier League 2, including a win over their Black Cat rivals.
Redfearn quit his role as Newcastle U23/U21 head coach
However, Neil Redfearn quit his role at second-string level, and while it was said to be down to behind-the-scenes reasons, results were not good enough on the pitch either, which meant him moving on was not necessarily a bad thing.
Sunderland have been very poor in League One this season, which also saw the end of Jack Ross’ reign at the Stadium Of Light.
The 3-0 defeat for the Wearsiders in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday – in which they have to play their senior team – at Scunthorpe who currently sit fourth bottom in League Two, was a low-point in a season of low-points.
Their fans are angry, and reaching the Championship at this moment in time, looks quite a long way off for Newcastle’s neighbours.
An upturn in fortunes for the Newcastle senior side is likely to be also rubbing salt into the Sunderland wounds, as they try to rescue their season under the guidance of their new manager Phil Parkinson.
So neither Newcastle’s second-string nor Sunderland, look anywhere near the levels they were at last season, although that may turn out to be a bigger worry for red and white fans than their black and white counterparts.
As is often said in football, what a difference a year makes.