This was a deeply disappointing home defeat against Crystal Palace that showed the fans our season is far from over.
Uncertainty around the club is very much evident with five games to go and United still not definitely safe from Premier League relegation.
It would still take a dramatic dip in form for the Magpies to sink back into the Championship - but as the players trudged off the field after a sloppy performance they still have plenty of work to do.
Some may argue Newcastle were unlucky after 18 shots at goal but they couldn’t find the decisive touch when it mattered.
Palace won it with a penalty 10 minutes from time after a clumsy challenge from DeAndre Yedlin as Luka Milivojevic slotted home on a bad day in the office for the Magpies.
The Magpies had started looking like a team that had a point to prove after a poor display away to Arsenal on Monday night at the Emirates Stadium. But it was Palace who had the first effort at goal as Jeffrey Schlupp fired wide at the Gallowgate End.
It took Newcastle until the 11th minute to respond when Isaac Hayden drilled the ball straight into the arms of Vicente Guaita.
Seconds later the goalkeeper failed to gather Fabian Schar’s ball into the box before Matt Ritchie’s shot was deflected wide. Newcastle worked the ball back into the box and after Schar had taken it off Rondon’s toes he could only send it high over the top.
Nevertheless, it had been a great start by United and they continued it when Ritchie’s effort was fumbled by Guaita before Salomon Rondon prodded home - only for the flag to be raised and the strike to be chalked off.
With 16 minutes gone, Rondon and Ayoze Perez worked the ball back into the box but attempted one pass too many.
However, Ritchie came in at the angle to drive a stinging shot at goal which Guaita pushed away from danger by the former Valencia goalie.
Just before the half-hour mark DeAndre Yedlin clipped in a fine right-wing cross for Rondon but he headed over.
Guaita saved Palace again on 34 minutes as Rondon was presented with a chance in the box after shoving James Tomkins off the ball but his shot went straight into the keeper’s body.
But three minutes before the break Tomkins thought he’d opened the scoring as he bundled home Wilfried Zaha’s corner, however, as he ran off to celebrate his joy was shortlived as Stuart Attwell signalled it was offside.
At the end of the first half, Rondon’s poor run in front of goal continued as he sent a free-kick well wide.
The two sides went in level at the break but Newcastle started the second half in similar fashion as Ki had a chance outside the box but could only steer the ball wide.
Three minutes later, Schlupp sent a header just wide of Dubravka’s left-hand post as the visitors reminded United they still had a game on their hands.
On 52 minutes, Ritchie picked out Perez but after controlling well enough his shot took a deflection and flew over the top.From the resultant corner, Ritchie’s ball into the box found Florian Lejeune but his powerful header was gathered by Guaita.
Rondon had another chance on 55 minutes after Almiron drew a foul, but the South American struck his effort over the bar from 25-yards.Just before the hour mark, the ball was worked to Yedlin on the right-hand side but his vicious strike flew just wide of the upright at the Gallowgate End.
The Magpies were dealt a real injury blow just before the hour mark when Lejeune went off with what looked like a nasty injury following a challenge from Andros Townsend.
The Frenchman was applauded off warmly by the Toon faithful as he left the field on a stretcher with his left leg heavily strapped.Paul Dummett replaced the ex-Eibar man for the last half an hour.
Benitez then turned to Jonjo Shelvey with 14 minutes to go as he came on for Ki. But within two minutes of his arrival Palace created a decent chance as Townsend crossed for sub Christian Benteke who slipped just as he was about to shoot.
Hayden then picked up a yellow card for a foul on Zaha but Palace wasted the free-kick as Perez hooked clear.
With 10 minutes left Yedlin made a rash challenge on Zaha in the box with Stuart Attwell pointing straight to the spot.
Luka Milivojević stepped up confidently to beat Dubravka and fire Palace ahead in the closing stages.
With six minutes left Perez sent a close-range header over as Newcastle ran out of ideas.
Christian Atsu came on for the last few minutes to try to make an impact as the rain teamed down at St James’ Park.
United were handed seven minutes of stoppage time to find an equaliser but they couldn’t force a response.