A fortnight ago, Rio Ferdinand was able to sit in the BT Studio prior to Newcastle's trip to Stamford Bridge, and point out to aggrieved Magpies supporters, just how thankful they should be for having Mike Ashley in their lives. He even managed to keep a straight face, whilst he did it.
Two hours later, Newcastle had fallen to their twelfth defeat of the Premier League season - a defeat that cemented their place firmly inside the league's bottom three.
Readers who have vowed to spend less time on social media in 2019 will be none-too-surprised to hear that Rio's Twitter page hasn't exactly been filled with posts of a cordial nature since.
"I don't even know him [Mike Ashley] very well!"
"When they went down, he spent £50m of his own money to get them up. Thank you, that should be."
"By the way, please say thank you for getting Rafa Benítez in! They're lucky to have him!"@rioferdy5 on Newcastle and their owner. pic.twitter.com/9TID7rJpOF
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 12, 2019
Two weeks on, and Newcastle United, six times winners of the FA Cup and thirteen times finalists, strode on to the hallowed St. James's Park sod for today's fourth round tie with Watford. Their opponents, sitting seventh, or top of the Premier League also-rans if you prefer, have enjoyed a fantastic season under Javi Gracia. When news filtered through around two o'clock that the Spaniard had made the widely vilified eleven changes to his side for the trip to the North-East, it was still hard to criticise a man who has been working with more or less the same eleven all season.
What Gracia's selection did present, was an opportunity for Rafa Benitez side to progress, despite a bit of rotation of his own. Playing at home, and off the back of a comprehensive league win over relegation rivals Cardiff City last weekend, it was all set up for the Magpies. Surely.
Unfortunately for those bedecked in black and white stripes, ventures to the FA Cup fifth round under the current owner have been few and far between. So few and far between, in fact, that the rich history the club has enjoyed throughout the competition's history, has been well and truly besmirched.
Since Mike Ashley's arrival in 2007, Newcastle United, six time winner and thirteen times finalists, have yet to reach the last 16. That's 12 years, 23 games and a grand total of six cup wins, one of which, last week's third round replay defeat of Blackburn, went to extra time.
Newcastle's Run of FA Cup Shame
Newcastle 0 Watford 2 - 26 January 2019 (Fourth Round)
Blackburn Rovers 2 Newcastle 4 (a.e.t) - 15 January (Third Round replay)
Newcastle United 1 Blackburn Rovers 1 - 5 January 2019
Chelsea 3 Newcastle United 0 - 28 January 2018
Newcastle United 3 Luton Town 1 - 6 January 2018
Oxford 3 Newcastle 0 – 28 January 2017 (Fourth round!)
Newcastle 3 Birmingham 1 – 18 January 2017 (Third round replay)
Birmingham 1 Newcastle 1 – 7 January 2017
Watford 1 Newcastle 0 – 9 January 2016
Leicester 1 Newcastle 0 – 3 January 2015
Newcastle 1 Cardiff 2 – 4 January 2014
Brighton 2 Newcastle 0 – 5 January 2013
Brighton 1 Newcastle 0 – 28 January 2012 (Fourth Round)
Newcastle 2 Blackburn 1 – 7 January 2012
Stevenage 3 Newcastle 1 – 8 January 2011
West Brom 4 Newcastle 2 – 23 January 2010 (Fourth round)
Newcastle 3 Plymouth 0 – 13 January 2010 (Third round replay)
Plymouth 0 Newcastle 0 – 2 January 2010
Newcastle 0 Hull 1 – 13 January 2009 (Third round replay)
Hull 0 Newcastle 0 – 3 January 2009
Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0 – 26 January 2008 (Fourth round)
Newcastle 4 Stoke 1 – 16 January 2008 (Third round replay)
Stoke 0 Newcastle 0 – 6 January 2008
The irony comes in the fact that Ashley is actually in the process of selling the club. We get it. He doesn't exactly prioritise the competition. But by Christ, if you can't get a run going in a year when you're trying to flog the club off to the highest bidder, you'd think you'd give it everything you had. Surely.
Admittedly, it's not Ashley who takes the field - although the day he does I, for one, would certainly not turn down a ticket to that spicy affair - and performances bordering on sheer disrespect from the likes of Kenedy, Joselu and Isaac Hayden, this afternoon, will only serve to frustrate supporters further.
Andy Cole summed the situation up perfectly, as he took in this afternoon's proceeding in the BBC Final Score studio, describing the club as a "sinking ship" under Ashley.
Well, if it's a ship, it certainly ain't of the ghost variety. The soul went out of that vessel long ago.