Back in April, when Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United played out an uninspiring 1-1 draw on the south coast in one of the final matches of last season, there was little real indication of the speed of upheaval that would follow in the summer at both clubs.
Rafael Benitez and Chris Hughton, two respected coaches known for fashioning more than the sum of the parts from their squads, swiftly departed, with surprise replacements Graham Potter and Steve Bruce - two managers some would argue representing contrasting philosophies - subsequently installed.
Saturday's late kickoff at St James' Park, then, comes with both sides still in a state of transition, making games like this potentially instructive in attempting to deduce how their long-term success might be impacted by those changes.
There have been signs of hope on Tyneside and in Sussex, mainly sparked by a couple of excellent away wins that have suggested the luxury of midtable might not be beyond the reach of these sides.
Albion went first, winning 3-0 at Watford in Potter's first game in charge, suggesting a resounding endorsement of his preferred new style of persistent passing, bravery in possession and formational fluidity.
Newcastle had an unsurprisingly bleak start to the season, repeating their form of previous years by losing both their first two matches before shocking Tottenham Hotspur at their own stadium to set in motion a sense of revival helped by a draw with Watford and having the temerity to take an early lead at Liverpool.
Nevertheless, the Magpies have a solitary win in six matches at home, losing three times and still looking for their first victory - and first lead - of the season on their own turf.
Like United with that Spurs result, Albion's early upset remains their only win so far, although they held the lead at home to West Ham United and Burnley before conceding equalisers.
The Seagulls have one win in their last six on the road, although they picked up a point on trips to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal and were praised for their boldness by Pep Guardiola following a 4-0 defeat at Manchester City at the end of August.
A textbook Albion performance produced a 1-0 win at St James' Park in the early passages of last season, compounding Newcastle's traditional lacklustre start to the campaign by scoring an early winner through midfielder Beram Kayal, who has since moved to Charlton Athletic.
Newcastle are familiar with Brighton, having encountered these opponents several times over recent seasons, but will be wary of a record that stands at just two wins out of the last 12 meetings, winning on one of the last five times Brighton have visited.
This match has been decided by a single goal on three of the last five occasions, with the other two resulting in draws.
Newcastle form: LLWDDL
Brighton form: WDLWLD
Newcastle's prolonged injury problems continue, doing without the likes of winger Allan Saint-Maximin, who is still struggling with a hamstring injury, and striker Dwight Gayle, who sustained a calf injury in pre-season.
Andy Carroll, the former England targetman who rejoined the club in the summer, still has the ankle injury that has ruled him out of the opening weeks of the season assessed.
Bruce was fuming with the challenge that forced Ritchie out of the Carabao Cup defeat to Leicester City on penalties at St James' Park, suggesting that Hamza Choudhury's tackle could have caused an eight-month layoff for the winger.
Albion could welcome back popular Malian midfielder Yves Bissouma, who is fully fit following a shoulder problem that kept him out of the opening weeks of the season.
Rapid Colombia winger Jose Izquierdo is still out following a succession of injuries that mean he is yet to play this season, but Albion's greatest concern surrounds promising midfielder Leandro Trossard.
The 24-year-old was denied the chance to play for Belgium when he picked up a groin injury during the international break, keeping him out until mid-October, according to Albion's medical team.
Trossard had been one of the most impressive elements of Brighton's two-match unbeaten start to the season, making his mark with fans by scoring an eye-catching goal against Southampton on his home debut.
Newcastle possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Krafth, Lascelles, Schar, Dummett, Willems; Almiron, Hayden, Longstaff, Atsu; Joelinton
Brighton possible starting lineup:
Ryan; Burn, Dunk, Webster, Duffy, Montoya; Gross, Propper, Stephens, March; Maupay
We say: Newcastle 2-2 Brighton
These are changing times for Newcastle and Brighton - no-one is quite sure how the likes of new goalscoring hope Joelinton will fare for the hosts, while the Seagulls have newfound ambition, producing a relatively high average of more than two major chances created per match.
That suggests this could be a higher-scoring match than these two tend to produce and, potentially, the first time more they have shared more than three goals since 1991.
body check tags ::