The build-up. Coming on the heels of two victories that had pushed Newcastle level on points with fourth place in the league, the opening quarter-hour against Hull raised hopes cruelly given what was to come. The attack was sprightly and relentless, with crisp passing and dedicated movement off the ball - after only 10 minutes Loic Remy's goal felt overdue. After the goal the defense shifted down to what Alan Pardew later would charitably call third gear, as Hull generated a passel of chances and a too-easy equalizer at the 26th. But the run of play and possession were still decidedly in Newcastle's favor when Remy got his brace just before the half. Five games is historically the point at which the Premier League table begins to resemble the eventual final table in a statistically signficant way. It felt for all the world like the start of Newcastle's run to Europe two seasons ago.
The reversal. Three minutes into the second half, Ahmed Elmohamady got just enough scalp on a Robbie Brady free kick to deflect it off the far post and into the net - a feat any soccer fan might admire, except that Elmohamady was somehow left completely unmarked to achieve it. The sudden stroke of U-10 defense appeared to shake the Newcastle squad. The next 15 minutes were relatively even, but Newcastle took another chin-punch when Yohan Cabaye, amid a solid performance, was chopped down by Curtis Davies and left in favor of Yoan Gouffran. Hull seized the momentum.
The downfall. Pardew's lack of options/ideas (you pick) was laid bare in the final half-hour as Remy faded, the attack deflated, and Hull got its gorgeous, inevitable winner. I'm not a tactics genius, but Newcastle's players didn't seem much more sure of their formation than I was after Papiss Cissé was lifted for Sylvain Marveaux in the 73rd minute, which was about 73 minutes too late. Cissé brought nothing to the match except a pinpoint bounce-cross on Remy's first goal that may or may not have been on purpose. Nor had Cissé been given much, as usual, but that's becoming a moot point. By this time it's clear he's either hopelessly misplaced on this team or not up to this league. He needs rest, reinforcement or replacement, and he's not the only one. Maybe this result was disheartening enough to convince those who can actually do something about it.