Newcastle missed out on the chance to make history as they suffered a shock defeat to Blackburn and had their lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship cut to two points by Brighton.
But Rafa dropped six players - thinking of the League Cup quarter final on Tuesday - and that is not a bad attitude to take.
This club needs success, and why not the League Cup THIS season?
The leaders had been chasing a 10th straight win in all competitions but missed out on a new club record as they were deservedly beaten 1-0 at St James' Park.
Rafael Benitez made six changes to his team and the move backfired as Charlie Mulgrew volleyed in from a corner with 15 minutes remaining.
Brighton took advantage as they came from behind to win 2-1 at home to Fulham.
Kevin McDonald gave the Cottagers an 18th-minute lead but Brighton turned it round in the second half when Sam Baldock equalised before Glenn Murray grabbed the 79th-minute winner.
Third-placed Reading also gained ground on the leaders, making it five wins out of five after beating Bristol City 2-1.
Garath McCleary gave them an early lead with the rebound after his weak penalty was saved by Frank Fielding, and Roy Beerens soon smashed in a second.
Reading conceded their first goal in 447 minutes when Gary O'Neil netted late on but it was not enough for City.
Norwich's miserable run continued as they slumped to a fifth straight defeat against in-form Derby to leave manager Alex Neil under increasing pressure.
Bradley Johnson grabbed the only goal against his former club to make it four wins a row for Steve McClaren's men, who are now just a point behind the free-falling Canaries.
Leeds are up to fifth after holding off a late fightback from 10-man Rotherham to win 2-1.
Garry Monk's side were cruising after first-half goals from Chris Wood and Souleymane Doukara, either side of Peter Odemwingie's red card for elbowing Liam Cooper.
The Millers grabbed a lifeline through Richard Wood's 86th-minute header but Leeds held on in a tense finale to beat their Yorkshire neighbours for the first time in 34 years.
Aston Villa are up to 11th after a 3-1 win at home to Cardiff maintained their impressive form since Steve Bruce's arrival.
Albert Adomah's opener was cancelled out by Rickie Lambert but Jonathan Kodjia's header restored Villa's lead and a late penalty from Rudy Gestede sealed the win.
Paul Lambert's first home match in charge of Wolves ended in a 2-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
Fernando Forestieri put Wednesday in front from the penalty spot after winning the spot-kick himself, and he was then involved in the build-up to Kieran Lee's goal which doubled the lead.
Ipswich secured their biggest win of the season with a 3-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers at Portman Road.
Grant Ward's scuffed shot put them ahead, an Alex Smithies mistake gifted Luke Varney the second, before Tom Lawrence added a third.
Clayton Donaldson scored the opener on his return to former club Brentford and then set up the second for Ryan Shotton to earn a 2-1 win for Birmingham at Griffin Park, with Scott Hogan pulling one back late on.
Preston had to settle for a 1-1 draw at home to Burton with Callum Robinson's equaliser in first-half stoppage time cancelling out Jackson Irvine's opener.