NOW for the real challenge of restoring Newcastle as a force in the Premier League.
The task that truly convinced Champions League Rafa Benitez to put his reputation on the line by taking the reins on Tyneside.
Newcastle players celebrate in their dressing room after gaining promotion[/caption]
Champagne bottles were popping after the 4-1 win over Preston North End[/caption]
Players duck for cover as the booze flows at St James’ Park[/caption]
Manager Rafa Benitez (back row, centre) celebrates with his backroom team[/caption]
The Toon enjoyed their promotion party as Ayoze Perez hit a lucky double and Christian Atsu netted, after Jordan Hugill’s early equaliser.
Yet it was Matt Ritchie’s second-half penalty, to put his side 3-1 up after Preston’s Paul Gallagher had been sent off for handling on the line, that confirmed they were going up.
The spot-kick ensured a return to the top flight and the £124million that comes with it. Talk about striking it Ritch!
Newcastle were always expected to go up this season though.
Most thought they would walk it with the calibre of their squad and manager.
It turned out to be more of a struggle than predicted - just as it was fittingly here in the first half against a stubborn Preston.
They will likely have to settle for second behind Brighton, bossed by ex-Magpies chief Chris Hughton.
And that is why there will be no open-top bus parade through the city to celebrate their achievement, unlike down on the South Coast.
But in a few months’ time, no one in Newcastle will care.
Benitez has achieved the only thing that truly matters - promotion at the first attempt.
And given the fact that Burnley are the only other club to pull off that feat in the last seven years, perhaps more credit is due the Spaniard than many will give.
On occasion they sparkled, such as the 6-0 bashing of QPR, sometimes they were shambolic, like last weekend at Ipswich.
More often than not they were merely functional, as they were here in the first period until running riot against ten men.
Though when Perez struck with only seven minutes on the clock, the hope inside St James’ Park was that it would spark a feast of Toon football to get the promotion party started.
It came in fortuitous circumstances as Jamaal Lascelles flicked on a corner and Ciaran Clark’s shot hit Perez on the arm and went in at the far post.
Magpies fans were brought back down to earth though as minutes later Preston should have equalised when Daniel Johnson was sent clean through, only to be denied by Rob Elliot’s smart stop.
Elliot had been handed a shock start - making his first appearance for 13 months - as regular No1 Karl Darlow was benched after a poor display at Portman Road.
It still seemed harsh on Darlow and showed a ruthless side to Rafa that could well resurface this summer when it comes to assessing who he deems worthy in his squad of cutting it in the top flight.
The Johnson warning was not heeded and on 14 minutes, North End were level.
Seconds after Aleksandar Mitrovic had a penalty appeal turned down, the impressive Tom Barkhuizen crossed for Hugill to divert into the corner via his shin.
Newcastle went into their shells at that point - as they often have at home this season after conceding - and it looked conceivable that promotion may have to wait another day.
But when first Tyias Browning and then Aiden McGeady were caught in possession right on half time, it offered the hosts a way back in front which they clinically took.
Isaac Hayden burst forward and passed wide to Mitrovic, who picked out Atsu to do the honours from ten yards out.
Benitez could not have planned a better time to score and it gave Newcastle the lift they desperately needed going into the break.
Their task was made infinitely easier when on 64 minutes, Hayden followed up a Perez shot from close range and saw his strike denied on the line by Gallagher’s hand.
The Preston skipper was fooling nobody, least of all ref Bobby Madley who promptly awarded a penalty and sent him off.
Toon talisman of late Ritchie did the honours from 12 yards, curling into the bottom left-hand corner and from then you knew the job was done.
Yet there was still time for a Jonjo Shelvey corner to go all the way across the box, bounce back off the far post and into the net off Perez’s shoulder.
Four was enough as Newcastle’s job for the night - and for the season - was done.
But really, the hard work starts now.