Ryan Taylor saluted the spirit in the Newcastle dressing room after firing his way into the derby history books with a precious winner at Sunderland.
The Magpies utility man, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Friday, only started at the Stadium of Light because of the club's failure to sign a specialist left-back in the wake of Jose Enrique's departure for Liverpool. But it was his 62nd-minute free-kick which clinched a narrow victory on Wearside to cement a solid start to the new campaign
Taylor said: "We have had a few problems off the pitch, but when we are on the pitch, we are a unit, we are a team and everyone looks after everyone. We are all good friends in the dressing room and it just showed today what spirit we have in the team."
Newcastle needed every ounce of that spirit to emerge victorious on Wearside as they were forced to contend with an early onslaught from their hosts and a poor afternoon for referee Howard Webb.
Sunderland, who went into the game in confident mood with manager Steve Bruce having invested heavily once again this summer, made much of the early running with Benin international Stephane Sessegnon twice testing goalkeeper Tim Krul from range as he repeatedly caused problems for Alan Pardew's men.
However, they enjoyed a major escape when Sebastian Larsson clearly handled Joey Barton's goal-bound 14th-minute header on the line, an offence which should have resulted in a penalty and a red card.
Neither Mr Webb nor his assistant had spotted the offence and the Black Cats enjoyed a major slice of good fortune, but they failed to make the most of it as chances came and went with Krul's clean sheet remaining intact.
But as Sunderland ran out of steam and ideas after the break, the visitors began to force their way into the game, and they took the lead when, after Jonas Gutierrez had been felled by Lee Cattermole, Taylor stepped up.
His perfectly-struck free-kick curled high over the poorly-positioned Simon Mignolet and into the back of the net with central defender Steven Taylor attempting to make sure, and the 3,000 travelling supporters behind the goal exploded into wild celebrations.
Ryan Taylor said: "There have been some great goals in this game in the past and to go down as a goalscorer in it, it's a great moment for me. But there's going to be a better moment in a couple of weeks with the birth of my baby, so that one will be for my baby."