IT started as a day of unbridled celebration, but by the end of the afternoon, it had fallen horribly flat. Off the pitch, Newcastle could hardly have done anything about the medical emergency that caused play to be stopped in the first half and burst the bubble of euphoria that had accompanied the start of the club’s brave new dawn. On it, though, the players and management were culpable for turning a day of feverish anticipation into a salutary reminder of just how bad things have become. Comprehensively beaten, this did not feel like the performance of the richest club in the world.

From their new position in the directors’ box, non-executive chairman Yasir al-Rumayyan and fellow director, Amanda Staveley, would have been left in no doubt as to the scale of the task they have inherited. Listening to the chants of “We want Brucie out” that rang around St James’ Park in the closing stages, they might well also have decided what their first move will be.

Bruce, taking charge of his 1,000th game in management, cut a crestfallen figure by the final whistle, with first-half goals from Tanguy Ndombele, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min having condemned Newcastle to defeat in what will surely be the final game of the 60-year-old’s reign. By the time the final whistle blew, with the Magpies having been reduced to ten men following Jonjo Shelvey’s senseless dismissal, Callum Wilson’s second-minute opener felt like a distant memory. Hope had long since disappeared by the time Eric Dier’s stoppage-time own goal made it 3-2.

There was perspective, of course, in the awful scenes that played out towards the end of the first half, causing play to be stopped for more than 20 minutes. For five minutes or so before things came to a halt, it was clear that a medical emergency was unfolding in the East Stand. The sight of supporters manically waving for stewards was the first sign that something was wrong, with a group of medics then clambering across seats to get to the area where fans were pointing.

Within a minute or so, it was clear that one of the medics was administering CPR, and while play continued for another couple of minutes with the players and officials on the field understandably oblivious to what was going on, it did not take long for fans in the corner of the ground to start signalling for the game to be stopped.

Sergio Reguilon was the first player to recognise something was wrong, alerting referee Andre Marriner to the seriousness of what was occurring. A couple of seconds later, and Dier was sprinting across the pitch, urging the medical staff in the dug-outs to assist in the resuscitation attempts.

Newcastle’s club doctor, Paul Catterson, raced across the field with a defibrillator, and with Marriner taking the players off the pitch, play was suspended, with the stricken spectator eventually being carried away on a stretcher and taken to a waiting ambulance. Thankfully, club officials were able to quickly confirm they had been successfully stabilised. As was the case with Christian Eriksen during the Euros, swift medical treatment inside a football stadium had saved a life.

Unsurprisingly, the incident completely transformed the atmosphere inside St James’. Ten days on from the announcement of Newcastle’s change of ownership, and the mood before kick-off had been celebratory. Part carnival, part homecoming, part crazy outpouring of sheer disbelief, Newcastle’s ‘Cathedral on the hill’ was the scene for the party that had long been planned for the day of Mike Ashley’s departure, but that few had truly dared believe would actually arrive.

Two hours before kick-off, and the patch of land next to the Sir Bobby Robson statue at the intersection of the Milburn Stand and Gallowgate End was thronged with hundreds of wide-eyed supporters soaking it all in. There were a couple of Saudi Arabian students, resplendent in their robes, who had travelled from Birmingham University to be part of a special day for their home state. Next to them, there was a group of five Geordies with tea towels on their heads. They had travelled from Benwell. It was a huge day for the place they call home too.

The Wor Flags group, whose banners had been put into storage as Mike Ashley’s reign limped to its conclusion, had promised a display to match the enormity of the occasion. They did not disappoint. The Gallowgate End was a sea of black-and-white before kick-off, with two giant banners stretching across the whole of the stand reading, “’Cause this is a mighty town built upon a solid ground, and everything they’ve tried so hard to kill we will rebuild!” Even Ashley’s decade of mismanagement, devoid of any kind of ambition, had been unable to shatter Tyneside’s spirit.

With the teams on the field, the PA announcer asked for a round of applause for al-Rumayyan, the head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund who had flown in from New York. The roar that followed was deafening. Plenty of Newcastle fans have reservations about their club being transferred into Saudi Arabian hands, mindful of difficult questions over human rights abuses, but for that one second, the relief at the dawn of a new era was palpable.

The noise was cacophonous, but the volume levels rose even higher once the action began. One hundred and eight seconds into the post-Ashley era, and Newcastle supporters were celebrating a goal as well as the departure of their hated former owner.

Spurred on by the electric atmosphere, the home side’s players exploded out of the traps, bursting forward to catch Tottenham cold. Allan Saint-Maximin released Javier Manquillo on the overlap down the right, the full-back delivered a perfectly-weighted cross into the middle, and after stealing ahead of his marker, Wilson powerfully headed home. At that point, the afternoon could not have been going any better.

Sadly, though, for all the talk of a brave new era, Newcastle are not in the relegation zone for nothing. Within a quarter-of-an-hour of taking the lead, they had been pegged back, and by the end of an elongated first half, they had conceded three goals to a Spurs team that were supposedly going through a rocky spell. Suffice to say, Newcastle’s defending was utterly dismal.

Ndombele claimed Spurs’ equaliser, curling home from an unmarked position after Reguilon rolled the ball into his path on the edge of the 18-yard box.

Five minutes later, and Kane was firing Spurs into the lead as he raced clear of a static Newcastle defence to reach Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s through ball before lofting a deft finish over Karl Darlow. The goal was initially ruled out for offside, but it did not take VAR long to determine that Kane had timed his run to perfection.

With the unfortunate medical break taking even more wind out of Newcastle’s sails, Spurs added a third goal on the stroke of half-time. Lucas Moura played Kane into space, and after the England skipper rolled in a low cross, Son was left with the simple task of tapping home.

Shelvey’s needless dismissal summed up Newcastle’s implosion, with Dier’s 90th-minute own goal doing nothing to change things.