Nick Pope conceded three goals, Kieran Trippier was lucky not to be sent off and Callum Wilson departed on 70 minutes with a tight hamstring.
Yet England boss Gareth Southgate will have left here enthused by a Newcastle trio who each harbour World Cup ambitions, and so they should.
In the case of Pope and Trippier, they will be pushing for a start in Qatar on this evidence, let alone a seat on the plane.
Southgate would have been less encouraged by Manchester City pair John Stones and Kyle Walker, terrorised throughout by man-of-the-match Allan Saint-Maximin. To think, he can’t even make the France squad.
England manager Gareth Southgate was at St James’ Park for Newcastle’s draw with Man City
City’s Phil Foden was also out of sorts and Pep Guardiola appeared to blame his eagerness to run forward in breaking the ‘calmness’ of his side.
But rarely will Southgate take in a top-flight game with eight English starters, and his thinking would have lurched in as many directions as this beautifully bonkers contest.
When the gold dust of a Premier League classic finally settles, he will realise that Eddie Howe’s recent claims of Pope emerging as England’s No 1 and Wilson being worthy of squad inclusion are not as outlandish as some perhaps thought. As Guardiola said: ‘England has an incredible keeper in there.’
Nick Pope made seven saves to keep the scores level as the Citizens had a raft of good chances
Pope made seven saves, and none of them routine. Forget the three conceded, he was the best English player on the park, challenged only by scorers and team-mates Trippier and Wilson.
Trippier, of course, was fortunate when his red card for a cynical challenge on Kevin de Bruyne was overturned in the second half.
But then again, his trip on halfway displayed the sort of cunning needed in the latter stages of major tournaments. It was also the correct decision to downgrade the foul to a yellow.
As for his free-kick, whipped over the wall and into the top corner — he executed similar in the 2018 World Cup semi-final against Croatia — what a trick that is to have when the margins are tight in knockout football.
Kieran Tripper scored Newcastle’s third goal, and had a red card rescinded after a VAR check
Wilson, meanwhile, believes that he needs 10 goals before November to win a place in Southgate’s squad. He took his tally to two from three games with a wonderful finish to put Newcastle 2-1 up before half-time.
The goal owed everything to his first touch, making a mug of Ruben Dias before flicking beyond Ederson with apparent ease — scoring goals like that against the champions is not so simple.
But, and there is a ‘but’ with Wilson, he complained of a sore hamstring at half-time and was later withdrawn. Howe says it was precautionary and he has managed him well during pre-season.
When he and Southgate spoke about the striker recently, such care of his fragile body was no doubt high on the agenda. What they will agree on is his ability.
Callum Wilson believes his goalscoring for the Magpies will put him in contention for Qatar
So, while it was a definite tick in the box for at least two of the home contenders, question marks linger over the visiting trio.
Walker — Guardiola’s inverted full back — was inverted more so by Saint-Maximin, given he turned so many ways. He had a torrid day.
And, when Saint-Maximin was done with Walker, he went for Stones. That should be a concern for Southgate and will perhaps leave him unsure as to their starting credentials.
One thing is for certain, he will be back at St James’ Park in the coming weeks — and not just because of the entertainment value.