Alan Pardew had the demeanour of a man who expected to wake up on Monday morning harbouring a sense of distinct unease, if not downright dread. "I'm on my guard," Newcastle United's manager said. "And I'll be spending transfer deadline day on my guard."
Pardew will never forget that late January day two and a half years ago when Andy Carroll was spirited away from him to Liverpool for £35m when it was too late to reinvest in replacements.
Now he is hoping against hope that the clock strikes 11pm with Yohan Cabaye still a Newcastle midfielder and an extra striker recruited. If that represents the best-case scenario, the worst features no fresh faces and the acceptance of an 11th-hour bid for Cabaye, leaving no time to sign Lille's Florian Thauvin or a similar alternative.
Mike Ashley, Newcastle's owner, is demanding around £18m for Cabaye, who has been the subject of a single, rebuffed, upheaval-prompting £10m offer from Arsenal. When the France midfielder responded by refusing to play in a defeat at Manchester City and a home draw with West Ham, it was easy to predict chaos and catastrophe ahead on Tyneside.
Yet for a side supposedly on the brink of "crisis" Newcastle looked in surprisingly good shape against Fulham, impressing even before Cabaye ended his strike by coming off the bench to a mixed reception but influential second-half effect.
Amid all the talk about Joe Kinnear's perplexing director of football role, the lack of summer acquisitions, Pardew's job security and Cabaye's discontent, it is easy to forget that some fine players are stabled at St James' Park.
Davide Santon shone at left back, Moussa Sissoko cut a formidable central-midfield figure, Loïc Rémy's pace fazed Fulham when he stepped off the bench, and Hatem Ben Arfa scored a superlative winner.
True, that subtly curving left-foot shot – created by Rémy's cross – from a talent double-marked throughout did not arrive until the 86th minute but Newcastle frequently sparkled against clever yet unambitious opponents who were so hellbent on holding on for a point that Dimitar Berbatov dropped ever deeper in midfield.
Reassuringly, Pardew's players resisted the long-ball tactics which have blemished their game in recent times, instead passing fluently along the ground.
"We're not in too bad a state," Pardew said. "If we can keep Yohan and add someone else it'll have been a fairly successful window. It was important to get Yohan out there and it'll make it easier for us all to move on, although, if he stays, there's a lot of talking to be done. We need to make sure we go forward hand in hand."
It was the sort of day when, under a bright blue late-summer sky, all sorts of unlikely rapprochements and wild dreams seemed suddenly attainable. In Ben Arfa's words, doubts were banished.
"We have good players who don't have doubts, we can do good things," Ben Arfa said. "I'm very happy here. We have strong characters and big personalities. We hope to go top 10 – or top five. It's OK for fans to have doubts but the players cannot have doubts. If you start thinking too much and having doubts you don't hit your best form."
However, Pardew would prefer him to think a little more before striving to beat one man too many. "At half-time I told Hatem: 'You need to seriously think about what you're doing because you're slowing us down and making poor decisions.' Then he produces a moment of magic. Hatem can win games at any level."
John Arne Riise and Alex Kacaniklic, Ben Arfa's traumatised minders, would not disagree. Once Rémy, making his debut after arriving on loan from QPR, entered the equation Fulham really came undone. "Loïc's got that thoroughbred look," Pardew said. "He looks like he could run in the derby."
Man of the match Davide Santon (Newcastle United)