It hasn't been the easiest of seasons for Newcastle United.
After finishing fifth in the Premier League in 2011-12 and earning a place in the Europa League, the Toon looked to be headed in the right direction.
Enter the injury bug.
Newcastle were embarrassingly exposed for their lack of squad depth, and any hopes of reaching the heights of the previous season were dashed before Christmas.
Relegation became a serious concern. Europe no longer seemed important. The players seemed confused and uninspired, and Alan Pardew didn't look like he had any answers to his side's collapse.
However, the floodgates have slammed shut and the side has recovered. Now that the club is a little safer than they have been before, this is a time to examine the positives that have come from the players, staff and executives of Newcastle being put in such an uncomfortable situation.
Wallets have been opened, talent has been discovered and hope has sprung anew around St. James' Park.
The promise of the future, at least for now, outweighs the pain of today. Here are six reasons why the Magpies' poor season Is a blessing in disguise.
With Newcastle United languishing just outside the relegation zone entering the January transfer window, owner Mike Ashley had no choice but to act.
And he sure did act.
French Ligue 1 stars Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Yoan Gouffran, Moussa Sissoko and Massadio Haïdara as well as hot young Dutch prospect Kevin Mbabu now find themselves in Geordie territory, and what a difference they have made.
Debuchy, Gouffran and Sissoko immediately entered the starting XI, with Yanga-Mbiwa replacing an injured Fabricio Coloccini in central defense and Haïdara featuring prominently in the club's Europa League fixtures.
It is tough to imagine what position the Magpies would be in if these acquisitions hadn't been made, with relegation seeming like more than just a possibility.
And even though Newcastle are still within striking distance of the bottom three, the quality and depth the side now possess make that scenario much less likely.
Now, a top-10 finish and a serious Europa League run seem like more distinct possibilities.
Now that Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias has admitted that the club made a mistake by not making enough major acquisitions over the summer to the Evening Chronicle, the pressure will be on Ashley and his team to invest much more cash in the next summer transfer window.
Some fans said at the time—and all fans should agree now—that only signing Vurnon Anita, Gael Bigirimana and the mystery man that is Romain Amalfitano was not enough for a club preparing to take on European football.
This summer, fan pressure will be at an all-time high to make purchases, specifically a striker and a potential replacement for Fabricio Coloccini.
The man Mike Ashley (and most of England) wants is Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, a striker from Ligue 1 side St. Etienne.
He won't be an easy signing, but with Mike Ashley personally taking an interest in the player, not to mention the club's current investment in French talent, this deal has real potential.
The danger, of course, is for Ashley to put all his eggs in one basket and come up short like he did last summer.
Newcastle heavily pursued Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy over the summer, but came up short and were unable to bring him Tyneside until January.
The results, as all can see, proved devastating.
Throughout much of the 2012-13 season, Newcastle's most important players have been forced off the pitch for long stretches of time and some footballers who weren't expecting much playing time found themselves in the first team.
In some cases, they exceeded expectations.
Rob Elliot, an Alan Pardew signing from Charlton Athletic who had yet to feature in the Premier League, was forced into action in late February after an injury to Tim Krul suffered in a Europa League fixture against Metalist Kharkiv.
Newcastle fans were not particularly thrilled with Elliot's only previous first-team action against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup in 2011, and when Southampton managed to score past him in the third minute of his first match, many had visions of relegation dancing through their heads.
Since then, however, Elliot has proven more than capable of handling his place between the posts, and his excellent distribution of the ball even led to an assist on a Papiss Cisse wonder goal.
With Steve Harper set to move on in the summer, the Toon Army can rest assured that Tim Krul won't be the only quality keeper in the squad.
Another bright spot has been James Perch, who has proven to be a useful and vastly versatile player. He has been able to cover wherever needed in central midfield and all over the back line, and he even picked up his first career goal with the Magpies against Manchester United in December.
Sylvain Marveaux and Gael Bigirimana have also made the most of their newfound first-team chances, with the former producing amazing assists in back-to-back matches for Papiss Cisse goals that would win matches against Stoke City and Anzhi Makhachkala, and the latter proving to be an exciting midfield prospect with a high work rate.
Mike Williamson is a nice enough guy. He is a quality clubhouse presence and the effort is always there on the pitch
He just is not a Premier League-caliber center-back.
In the absence of the injured Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor, the former Wycombe Wanderers man kept the hearts of Newcastle supporters in their throats every time the ball came his way.
His defensive positioning is reminiscent of a kitten chasing a laser pointer, and offensively his ridiculous constant hoof-balling was disastrous for Newcastle's attacking creativity.
Thankfully, the presence of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa should keep him off even the bench for at least the rest of the season, and he may have featured in his last game for Newcastle.
Youngsters Sammy Ameobi and Shane Ferguson also failed to live up to expectations, proving not quite ready for the spotlight. Now on loan to Middlesbrough and Birmingham City, respectively, they might not get another chance at first-team action for quite some time.
Finally, Gabriel Obertan once again has proven that he can do two things: run really fast and avoid being particularly helpful.
One was a disappointment and a representation of the mistakes of a previous regime.
One was just a scumbag.
Xisco and Nile Ranger didn't have to change much to fit in with this season's underachieving squad. They'd been underachieving their whole Newcastle careers.
Xisco only featured in nine Premier League matches in his five years with the club, scoring one goal. While typically spending most of his time on loan, this season Xisco hung around the Newcastle reserves reminding everyone how nice it would be to have his £5.7 million transfer fee back.
Ranger spent more time than Xisco with the first team, but he also spent more time than Xisco in handcuffs.
With the whole of Newcastle struggling to survive in the Premier League, the wastes of space that were Xisco and Ranger became exponentially more frustrating, and Derek Llambias was forced to act.
Xisco's contract termination was a minor financial relief, and Nile Ranger's release by mutual agreement was a decision that had to be made.
Cutting out the squad's dead weight has proven addition by subtraction, and now their roster spots can be filled by players filled with potential who really want to be there.
Oh, and since he's been gone, Nile Ranger's been arrested again.
Never change, Nile. Never change.
Steven Taylor and Tim Krul are ecstatic upon hearing slides will be added to St James' Park.
Call it wishful thinking, but this writer would like to believe the money that would have been going to Nile Ranger will now be spent on adding slides to St James' Park.
Regardless of where the money comes from, slides look to be a genuine possibility to improve the flow of foot traffic at the Magpies' stadium, and it's a brilliant idea.
Newcastle fans have always supported their club through good times and bad, but in a tough season like this one, wouldn't it be easier to come to a match knowing that if things go south, you can slide right out of the stadium?
It's a simple idea, but a brilliant one.
This all may seem silly, but it is certainly symbolic of the new hope for the coming seasons that has sprung out of the changes the club has undergone.
The rest of this season (both domestically and in Europe) and the seasons to come bring with them more potential than Newcastle sides have possessed for years, and if Alan Pardew really deserved his Manager of the Year awards last season, he'll be more than able to lead this squad well on its way to glory.