A first win since February and two-goals to boot. The travelling Sunderland fans had a rare glimmer of cheer after relegation was confirmed last week. But for all the win was devoid of much meaning, the match did sharpen attention on those out-of-contract players and who deserves a new deal for the Championship campaign.
David Moyes indicated on Friday that he has decided who amongst the eight players out of contract at the end of the season will be offered a new deal at the Stadium of Light and continue at the club into the new second-tier campaign.
Of that number, John O'Shea, Seb Larsson, Victor Anichebe and George Honeyman took to the pitch at the KCOM Stadium yesterday. The other four are either injured, already surplus to requirements or in the case of Will Buckley, at another club somewhere - the details of which have been lost to the mist of not really caring.
Steven Pienaar did not make yesterday's match day squad and nor did Joleon Lescott. Neither can realistically warrant a new contract even if it is in the second-tier.
Pienaar began the season looking as if he might still retain a modicum of the class which had categorised his career as a younger man but as the campaign has worn on, the South African's dignity has come under threat as his legs are now patently too long gone for English football.
As for Lescott, this season has merely been another relegation to add to his CV to supplement last season's award at Aston Villa. The fact he has played so little part in the Sunderland side which has dropped does not assuage his special place at the heart of David Moyes' slump. Lescott will now forever be remembered as the pointless signing whose wages since a January arrival could have kept the Sunderland-employed admin and housekeeping staff that Martin Bain has decided to make redundant in work for a year.
Jan Kirchhoff was the other deal-ending man not to have been anywhere near the squad yesterday. One suspects the classy-but-knackered German may yet end up training alone somewhere this summer in a desperate bid to get himself fit enough to find a club. A tragedy really but unless Sunderland have sought and received reassurances over his potential for a long-term upturn in fitness, one imagines he will be released at the end of the month.
Of those on the pitch yesterday with a deal expiring, perhaps George Honeyman was the pick of the bunch. The youngster may have started this season suspecting he would be on the hunt for a new club this summer and whilst loan deals have been mooted during the campaign, the 23-year-old has been able to benefit from the earlier injury crisis at Sunderland to engineer himself a breakthrough in 2017. At the KCOM yesterday, the midfielder proved himself something of a livewire and for a side who have been utterly abject at set-pieces, it was refreshing to see a decent one at last to add to Wahbi Khazri's the other week and provide another goal.
And John O'Shea led the back line yesterday with authority as he is still able. The Republic of Ireland captain is surely worthy of a deal at Sunderland to such point as his legs finally give way or the club return to a top-flight status which will be beyond him by then.
Seb Larsson has divided opinion this season. His pointy buzzing impact has dwindled as his legs have slowed and to be frank, the Swede's set-pieces for which uneducated commentators still rave, have been laughable at times. However, he did set up Sunderland's second goal yesterday with one and the man who turns 32 next month is probably worth another year at the Stadium of Light. He and O'Shea will have an eye on the World Cup in 2018 so retain a reason to perform for their own personal ambition as much as the collective aim of promotion.
Victor Anichebe then. He was poor in patches yesterday but his physical presence in an otherwise currently lightweight line-up is worth a contract extension presuming he wishes to spend another year with David Moyes having endured so much of his career with the 54-year-old Scot. Anichebe will surely enjoy the rough-and-tumble of the Championship.
So, whilst the 'new deals in the Championship' debate may have been anticipated as posing some challenging decisions, it's actually a pretty easy one for Moyes to call this season and whilst the four - O'Shea, Honeyman, Anichebe and Larsson - have proven that at times the Premier League is beyond them, the second-tier should see them find their level and be worthy of staying on.