Friday night football was back at St James' Park and it certainly lived up to its billing as Newcastle United and Leeds played out the most entertaining 1-1 draw you are likely to see this season.
It was a game that could easily have got away from Newcastle after another poor start in front of their home supporters but, crucially, Leeds did not put the game out of sight after Raphinha's opener in the 13th minute.
As the crowd made their feelings clear with a series of anti-Bruce chants, Newcastle's players did not crumble and, in actual fact, the hostility from the terraces seemed to shake them into life along with a crucial tactical change.
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Graeme Jones was sat alongside an analyst upstairs for the first half but it was not long until the concerned assistant made his way down to the bench as Leeds dominated possession and territory.
Newcastle had started the game with a back five - Isaac Hayden again filled in at right-sided centre-back - but Leeds were finding it all too easy to exploit the space between the Magpies' midfield and defence.
Following a consultation with his assistants, Bruce decided to switch to a back four and Hayden moved into midfield to try and limit the influence of Kalvin Phillips, Rodrigo and Mateusz Kilch.
It helped settle Newcastle down a little and the Magpies soon gave the crowd something to shout about as Joelinton forced Ilan Meslier into a crucial save and, then, Matt Ritchie hit the upright a few minutes later.
Newcastle were growing in confidence and, in Allan Saint-Maximin, the black-and-whites possess a player who can cause any Premier League defence problems - let alone Leeds' patched-up backline.
When the chips were down, Saint-Maximin stepped up with a moment of magic just before half-time. Joelinton did well to calmly pick his team-mate out inside the box and Saint-Maximin fired Newcastle level after jinking past four helpless Leeds players.
Dancing a jig of delight, Saint-Maximin changed the atmosphere within the stadium at just the right time and, again, sent a timely reminder to his critics that there is so much more to his game than pace and stepovers.
Saint-Maximin has often been criticised for a lack of end product but the forward has worked hard on that side of his game and has been directly involved in two-thirds of Newcastle's six goals this season. Without the Frenchman, Newcastle would be rooted to the bottom of the table on zero points.
Is it any wonder that Bruce admitted his talisman's natural talent was 'scary' after the game? Saint-Maximin, in turn, said he 'loved' his manager, who has afforded him the freedom no other top-flight boss would probably have been prepared to.
Bruce, unsurprisingly, reserved a bear hug for Saint-Maximin as he took his place to conduct his media duties pitchside after the game and the Newcastle head coach will at least take comfort from how his players kept going for him.
However, Newcastle are still searching for their first win of the campaign - where is that victory coming from? - and the anti-Bruce chants which greeted the final whistle are a fresh reminder that stadiums are no longer a safe haven for the 60-year-old.
Whereas players and staff were shielded from criticism from the terraces while games were played behind closed doors last season, that is no longer the case and it is imperative Newcastle start games on the front foot from here on in after another shaky opening against Leeds.
Ahead of the game, skipper Jamaal Lascelles said Newcastle had been 'working on something slightly different' with a 'lot of thought' and video analysis sessions behind it'. Steve Bruce confirmed that his side were 'not going to be wide open' and would instead look to hit Leeds on the counter-attack.
Bruce ultimately kept faith with the outfield players who tasted defeat at Old Trafford eight days previously and resisted the urge to tweak his backline for the first time this season.
However, the Newcastle head coach had an easy decision to make in goal after Freddie Woodman picked up a knock in training on Wednesday so Karl Darlow made his first appearance since February after recovering from COVID.
Darlow was used to some busy nights when he filled in for Martin Dubravka in the first half of last season and the shot-stopper was soon called into action.
With Newcastle sitting back, Raphinha fired an early warning with just 12 minutes on the clock after getting on the end of Rodrigo's cross but Darlow managed to make the save.
However, just a minute later, the visitors were in front after Raphinha's whipped ball from the edge of the area evaded everyone, Darlow included, and nestled in the net. Cue 'We want Brucie out!' reverberating around the stadium.
It was certainly not the start that Bruce had in mind - a nervous Ciaran Clark booted the ball out of play at one point despite not being under pressure - after his staff had spent the week working on defending at the training ground.
Leeds repeatedly used the same tactic in getting the ball out to the right to either Raphinha or Rodrigo and then cutting the ball back to an unmarked team-mate but Newcastle simply could not cope with it and Kalvin Phillips fired just wide before the half-hour mark from such a move.
While it only took two or three passes for Leeds to cut Newcastle open, equally, the Magpies found it easy to create decent chances against the visitors' own porous backline and Saint-Maximin duly equalised in the 44th minute.
Remarkably, though, this game was so utterly bonkers that Leeds nearly retook the lead just a few seconds later but Hayden got across to make a vital block to keep out Raphinha's effort.
Neutrals watching on could not wait for the second half but, clearly, Newcastle had to reorganise and tighten up at the break. However, with both these sides seeking their first win of the season, there was so much at stake and, unsurprisingly, the second half was open.
Darlow was called into action in the 54th minute to prevent Lascelles' flick going into the net after the Newcastle skipper turned Dan James' cross towards his own goal.
Plenty will have been said by Leeds' coaching staff at half-time about Saint-Maximin but the Frenchman was still causing the visitors real problems and he forced Meslier into an important save just before the hour mark.
The game was on a knife edge and Newcastle supporters feared the worst when Bamford was played through in the 72nd minute but the England international fired straight at Darlow.
Both sides went in search of what would have been a winner and Saint-Maximin seized upon a miskick by Luke Ayling late on but Meslier was equal to his close-range effort.
Ultimately, they had to settle for a point.
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