ANOTHER home game, another defeat. The biggest relief for everyone connected with Newcastle United was when the final whistle was blown on a wet, windy and depressing night on Tyneside.
BAD NIGHT: Newcastle United’s Yoan Gouffran walks back to the centre circle while Tottenham celebrate their fourth goal at St James’ Park last night
Alan Pardew, the stunned manager, was left shaking his head in disbelief – along with the few remaining Magpies fans inside St James' Park at the end – as Tottenham cruised to a 4-0 win and it could have been more.
The latest loss meant Newcastle suffered for the fourth consecutive league game on home soil for the first time since 1987 and that run has leaked ten goals without reply.
Tottenham, turning in a performance worthy of clinching a Champions League spot before the end of May, were at their best as a brace from Emmanuel Adebayor and a goal each from Paulinho and Nacer Chadli claimed all the points.
For Newcastle, though, this was another occasion to forget … and worryingly for Pardew there have been a few too many of those lately.
It is hoped Loic Remy, Cheik Tiote and Fabricio Coloccini will be back by the time Newcastle return to action against Aston Villa on Sunday week.
By then the man leading them must somehow bring back confidence to a playing staff seemingly shorn of that lovely ingredient.
It is hard to believe that this is a group, albeit without the £20m man Yohan Cabaye, that dared to even dream about a top four spot themselves in December. Now the same men must just be relieved to be just a win away from safety by mid-February.
The signs were there early on. Despite claiming to have been impressed by Davide Santon's performance as a makeshift holding midfielder at Stamford Bridge, the decision was taken to revert him back to left-back ahead of Paul Dummett.
Santon was soon put under pressure too and he struggled to deal with it. Firstly Mousa Dembele got beyond him to create an opening for Adebayor, whose shot would have found the bottom corner had Vurnon Anita not got a slight touch to take it wide.
From the corner the unlikely figure of Younes Kaboul also rounded Santon to put a chance on a plate for Paulinho. The Brazilian's stinging drive had to be well saved by Tim Krul at his top corner.
It was not the ideal start for a Newcastle team trying out something different again. The recall of Papiss Cisse in attack in a league game for the first time since October 30 meant a switch to the more traditional two up front system.
Having survived the early scares on Krul's goal, Cisse looked to have marked his return with a rare goal. When a free-kick was floated deep to the back post, his new strike partner Luuk De Jong nodded down and Cisse's outstretched leg brought a great save from Hugo Lloris.
But Tottenham were far more fluid in attack, regularly exposing gaps down the flanks and they earned a deserved lead within 19 minutes.
When Nabil Bentaleb got down the left and sent in a teasing centre, Krul should have done better than to merely push the ball in to the path of Adebayor with a weak arm.
The Dutchman, the hero of the White Hart Lane win in November, should have been given greater protection, but Adebayor should never have had the opportunity to tap over the line from just a few yards.
It was always going to be difficult for Newcastle to pull level, their record without the likes of Cabaye and Remy has been poor and boast the unwanted record of having the fewest number of scorers in the league (8) this season.
When they did fashion an opening, they failed to seriously test Lloris until the second half. Cisse should have done better when Sammy Ameobi put him through, but the African's attempted lob over the stranded keeper dropped harmlessly wide.
Arguably Newcastle's best move of the half was when Santon picked out Sissoko as he ran from deep between the blue shirts.
Sissoko cut inside, played a neat wall pass with De Jong before directing an effort high in to the Leazes End when he should really have tested Lloris from 20 yards.
Yet Newcastle were still fortunate to be only one down at the break, particularly when Aaron Lennon's low shot from just inside the box bounced off the foot of the post and off Krul for a corner.
But it did not take Newcastle long to concede that second and again there were question marks, albeit not as big, over Krul's involvement.
When Tottenham broke, Adebayor ended up having the space on the edge of the area to power a powerful low shot towards the Newcastle goal.
Krul did well to get down low to parry, but Paulinho darted straight in and slotted the rebound beyond him and the goalkeeper turned around in surprise that no black and white shirt went with him.
Tottenham looked far more dangerous every time they attacked, while Newcastle's advances were continuously thwarted whenever Jan Vertonghen and Kaboul were given something to deal with.
The introduction of Hatem Ben Arfa for the ineffective De Jong did give Newcastle a fresh impetus. From the Frenchman's cross, Debuchy appeared to have scored with a powerful header yet Lloris somehow turned over with a great one-handed stop.
The Spurs goalkeeper did it again moments later, this time to deny Cisse's downward header threatening to sneak inside the far post.
There was no such resilience at the other end and Adebayor got his second with eight minutes remaining. When Andros Townsend's effort was stopped by Krul, the striker volleyed low in to the ground and bounced over the keeper.
And then to wrap things up in style substitute Chadli took a touch and curled in a quite brilliant fourth from distance into Krul's top left corner.
It could have been more, but the whistle – and more rain – arrived to put Newcastle out of their misery.