It is easy to chart success in the first season after promotion.
Few would disagree with the assessment of the mid-table consolidation that has been achieved, under uncertain circumstances, as a job well done.
But what next?
What should Newcastle United realistically be aiming for in their second season back in the top division?
That question is an important one, regardless of whether Ashley stays, or hopefully sells in the summer.
The cliche of ‘second season syndrome’ is often a result of uncertainty about what direction a team chooses once their primary goal of survival is achieved.
The Newcastle United hierarchy need to avoid being too conservative with their ambitions.
Our relegation in 2016 was brought on by consecutive seasons of aimless attempts to avoid the bottom three. With each narrow escape never built on.
The same mistakes continued to be made despite (or more likely because of) churning through three average managers and countless discount signings.
Transfer dealings from this point onwards should focus on players that can take Newcastle United comfortably into the top half of the table or beyond.
The top six may now be populated by international franchises with obscene resources but Rafa is a manager able to ruffle their feathers with the right support.
We are currently on course for a similar finish to the 46 points that brought us safety in our previous return to the Premier League in 2010/11.
The season after, saw quality players scouted and signed including Cabaye and Ba to improve the side. As a result, we ended the campaign 5th, still our only impressive finish under Ashley.
The same should be aimed for now and, more importantly, it needs to be sustained in later years too.
And even if European places are realistically still out of reach, we should be aiming for top eight.
Everton have almost monopolised that area of the table for the past decade and there is little to suggest that they would be better than Newcastle if, for once, the pieces of the jigsaw at St James Park start to fit together.