When Sir Bobby Robson's Newcastle United qualified for the Champions League after finishing fourth in the 2001/02 Premier League season, former Magpie Steve Howey was plying his trade in the second tier with Manchester City.
Ahead of Wednesday's clash in the Capital One Cup between his former employers it's fair to say both clubs have seen their respective fortunes reversed.
The rise and rise of Manchester City owes much, if not everything, to the Mansour millions and having played in Manchester when the mood in the city - at least half of it - really was blue, Howey accepts the need for gargantuan financial investment to compete in the higher echelons.
"We all knew that City were a sleeping giant," he told Sky Sports.
"During my three-and-a-half years, the supporters were absolutely amazing. They've had to put up with more than their fair share of rubbish, and I'm delighted to see them doing well.
"They needed that huge injection of money, but so do Newcastle. They won't be able to compete at the top without it."
After Sunday's defeat in the Tyne-Wear derby and subsequent spat with the regional press, tensions are fraught at St James'. Howey accepts Newcastle will never be able to compete without significant investment but, at the same time, believes the club's supporters need to tread carefully in their growing quest to oust owner Mike Ashley from the club.
"Do I agree with some of the decisions Ashley has made? No I don't," he concedes.
"But they have to be careful about what they wish for, because he has stabilised the club financially and ploughed in an awful lot of money.
"If he turned around and decided to pull his money out, Newcastle would be in an awful state. Who's to say that whoever comes in doesn't run the club into the ground?"
Wednesday night's clash, live on Sky Sports, represents a chance for both clubs to make inroads in a competition eminently winnable and Howey remembers fixtures between the two sides fondly. The Toon faithful remain close to his heart.
"I remember going back to Newcastle with Kevin Keegan, Arthur Cox, Derek Fazackerley and Darren Huckerby," he recalls.
"We all had ties with Newcastle and were a bit nervous, but the atmosphere was absolutely unbelievable. We all got a great reception."
The Sunderland-born defender believes that City's strength in depth will be too overwhelming for a Newcastle side shaken after a second-successive defeat to Sunderland.
"If Pellegrini changes six or seven players, they'll still have a fantastic team. It's been said that certain members in the Newcastle hierarchy don't care about cup competitions, so I'll be interested in what team Newcastle play.
"If they do play a weakened side, it's going to be a tall ask to get a decent result, so I'll go for a Man City win."