GARY van Egmond was welcomed like a long-lost friend when it was announced on October 20, 2011, that he would be returning to the helm of the Jets in place of the sacked Branko Culina.
The man who brought the first national title to a proud but success-starved region was hopping back in the cockpit for a crack at another.
"I feel very privileged to come back and have a second opportunity coaching the Newcastle Jets," he said at the time. "I don't know how you guys feel but when I drive over the Swansea Bridge, for me it feels like I'm home."
The feeling was mutual.
To most "Dutchy" appeared the ideal fit.
Although born in Sydney's Northern Beaches, he considered Newcastle home.
He had success previously, understood the passion and pride the Hunter had for its football team and knew the lay of the land.
Three years at the Australian Institute of Sport working under the umbrella of the senior national coaches had broadened his knowledge and experience.
Given the charter of promoting youth, van Egmond introduced an up-tempo possession-based game suited to young minds and willing workers.
The arrival of former England target Emile Heskey a fortnight before the 2012-13 season kick-off threw a spanner in the works.
However, two seasons that promised so much had come and gone without a trip to the finals.
Management remained steadfast in their support of van Egmond. But it was clear from the outset of the 2013-14 campaign, that he needed results and fast.
Despite abandoning his philosophy for a counter-attacking style, an all too familiar pattern emerged.
A crude tackle in the pre-season left hired gun Heskey with a bung knee and out of the season-opener against Sydney.
Dutch import Kew Jaliens and fringe Socceroo Nathan Burns had been added to the squad, with a support cast of captain Ruben Zadkovic and young charges Josh Brillante, Adam Taggart, Connor Chapman, Craig Goodwin and Andrew Hoole.
"The young players coming through have gained a lot of experience over the last 12 months," Van Egmond said. "A year is not a long period in a career, but it can be the difference between becoming a seasoned professional footballer or not making that transition from youth to senior footballer. This is the year we will see that."
Italian maestro Alessandro Del Piera produced a master class to inspire Sydney to 2-0 win in round one, which was followed by three stalemates.
The Jets finally broke their duck with a thrilling 2-1 win over Adelaide in round five.
The knives had been out for van Egmond after the slow start.
But goals either side of half-time to Kew Jaliens and Adam Taggart were enough to sink the Reds.
"There is always going to be pressure on a coach to get results,'' van Egmond said. ''That comes with the gig."
It was the start of a positive run, winning three of the next four games to move to 15 points and into the top four.
"I guess I get to keep my job for another week," van Egmond chirped as he walked out of the press conference following a 2-1 triumph over Victory in round nine.
The surge in form coincided with a haul of six goals in five games by Taggart, who was rewarded with a one-year contract extension.
Speculation over van Egmond's future resurfaced in December after reports club management had approached Singapore-based former Socceroo Darren Stewart.
Six years after Joel Griffiths led the Jets to their only A-League championship, the firebrand forward returned in January on a short-term deal.
At his peak, Griffiths held hero status in the Hunter.
Although excited at the arrival of the proven goal machine, captain Zadkovich remained cautious.
"He is a fighter and a winner, which is exactly what we need," Zadkovich said. "The fans love him and he plays with his heart on his sleeve ...but you can't expect a new player to come straight in and change everything."
Within a week, Griffiths' reunion with van Egmond was over after the coach was sacked.
Clayton Zane was elevated to the top job and given 12 games to convince club hierarchy that he was the right man for the gig full-time. Craig Deans and striker Michael Bridges, who was still playing, joined him as assistants.
Although endorsing Zane as the "new voice the club needs", chief executive Robbie Middleby said a thorough recruitment process would be undertaken to ensure they brought in the "right person" to guide the club beyond this season.
Okon, Mark Rudan, Stewart and Phil Stubbins had previously been linked to the Jets as uncertainty over van Egmond's future mounted.
"There was a lot of speculation that we'd contacted certain coaches, which we haven't done," Middleby said.
The Jets kept moving on the recruitment front, adding David Carney to the roster and extending the stay of Craig Goodwin.
After sitting on the fringe of the top six for 26 weeks, the Jets semi-final hopes would be determined in the final round.
To qualify, the seventh-placed Jets needed to beat the Reds and have Sydney lose to Perth Glory and turn around a three-goal advantage Sky Blues had.
Griffiths and Taggart scored as the Jets accounted for Adelaide 2-0 but it was in vain as Sydney beat the Glory 2-1.
Zane finished with five wins, five losses and two draws after taking the reins in round 16.
Taggart netted seven goals in the final seven games to finish with a club record 16 goals and take the A-League Golden Boot. Two months later he was rewarded with a place in the Socceroos squad for the World Cup.
After talks with Graham Arnold broke down, the Jets announced in May that Phil Stubbins would be at the helm for the 2014-15 campaign.