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Alan Pardew is refusing to contemplate what might have been had Newcastle made their big transfer push during the summer.
There was dismay on Tyneside when, despite months spent attempting to thrash out deals for key targets, only one senior player, Vurnon Anita, arrived at St James' Park in the wake of the club's remarkable fifth-place Barclays Premier League finish.
The wisdom or otherwise of that decision - the Magpies, as has become their custom, refused to budge on their valuations of players - was exposed by the injuries and suspensions which left the manager fighting a losing battle to field a competitive team as the club slipped inexorably down the league table.
However, having admitted they had made mistakes, owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias moved to rectify them in January by allowing Pardew to sign Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haidara, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran, and the transformation has been significant.
However, asked if he had ever considered how different things could have been, the 51-year-old was philosophical.
Pardew said: "No, I don't really think like that. I don't think there would have been any chance of signing Sissoko, for example, or Mapou in that summer window.
"Debuchy, we know, could have possibly got over the line, but it's difficult to say. At the time, it seemed the right thing."
Preparations are already underway for the next phase of Newcastle's recruitment programme at the end of this season, although that planning is dependent on the club retaining its top flight status.
Three victories in four league games have eased fears of being dragged into the relegation scrap, although Pardew is acutely aware that defeat by Capital One Cup winners Swansea tomorrow could nudge them back towards the developing battle for survival.
He said: "It's that momentum, it changes the outlook of players as well as staff, directors and supporters.
"All our supporters will be looking closely at this game. It's a key game and we have got to make sure we get something out of it, a positive result."
The Magpies will run out at the Liberty Stadium sitting six points clear of the bottom three and having booked a Europa League last 16 clash with big-spending Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala - they play the first leg in Moscow next Thursday evening - as a result of their marked improvement.
But perhaps more importantly, they are once again playing the kind of football which fuelled their return to prominence last season, and that is a source of excitement for their manager.
Pardew said: "We are much more aggressive in our play. We have tried to be aggressive all year, even with teams that perhaps didn't have the quality to play that way.
"We have always played on the front foot, as Manchester United and Arsenal proved, but ultimately, we didn't have enough to win those two games.
"I always enjoy it, but you don't want to have defeats. I don't like any time when we lose and we have had some tough weeks when I was looking at the squad and knew it wasn't good enough, not strong enough.
"It's difficult to go into games like that, so it's been nice this last few weeks to have a strong squad - strong enough - and not only that, but get results on top of that as well because it doesn't always go hand-in-hand.
"Your squad comes together, but it takes a while for it to click into gear. Fortunately, we almost hit the ground running when the new guys arrived."
Pardew will definitely be without injured keeper Tim Krul with Rob Elliot deputising once again, while skipper Fabricio Coloccini is a major doubt after damaging his back during Sunday's 4-2 victory over Southampton.