Last week, in the lead up to his first head-coach meeting with mentor and mate Craig Bellamy, Adam O'Brien said "one of us is going to be smiling, the other not so much."
Bellamy and the Storm may have walked away from Central Coast Stadium with the grin and two NRL points on Saturday night, however, O'Brien and the Knights seemed to earn some newfound respect in the process despite wearing the grimace of defeat.
The master reigned supreme 26-12 over his former apprentice, but with Newcastle fighting back from 18-0 down and pushing Melbourne until the closing stages, Bellamy can "without a doubt" already see the influence O'Brien is having on the Novocastrians since taking up the role ahead of season 2020.
"I knew at half-time they weren't going to go away, and they didn't obviously," Bellamy said.
"They really worried us in the second half, I think that's probably a stamp [of his]... they don't go away no matter what the score is or what the situation is.
"We probably saw that against Penrith a couple of weeks ago. They'd lost a couple of players and were down 14-0 but just kept trying and just kept doing their job.
"Sometimes that will get you a game and sometimes it won't, but it's a really good sign that a team who get into not such a good situation don't give up.
"As you can see from the Knights, they don't give up."
The Storm, where O'Brien spent a decade under Bellamy before joining the Roosters for one season in 2019, now jump the Knights on the ladder.
Joint-second Melbourne (8 points) have a 4-1 record from the opening five rounds, sitting one ahead of Newcastle (7) who are equal fourth with three wins, a draw and the weekend's loss.
It was the first time O'Brien, who previously tasted premiership success as an assistant at the Storm and Roosters, had suffered defeat at the Knights having opened the coronavirus-impacted year with an unbeaten run.
"He's a tremendous guy and he was a really important part of our club for a long period of time," Bellamy said.
"So we love see him doing as well as he's doing in Newcastle at the moment."
The Knights, who meet Melbourne again in round 12, last beat the Storm almost five years ago on August 24, 2015.
Newcastle, who scored 12 unanswered points from just before half-time to make it 18-12 with less than 20 minutes left, copped a controversial penalty late in the contest that helped the Victorian franchise seal the result.
O'Brien said "I'm not going to blame referees, I'm not that sort of coach" but added "Klem can't disappear" in relation to defender David Klemmer and decoy runner Dale Finucane coming into contact next to the uprights.
The Knights had double the number of errors, producing 12 to Melbourne's six.
Newcastle's left-edge pairing Bradman Best and Edrick Lee both crossed for tries, meaning they have 10 between them in 2020.
Recent Knights recruit Andrew McCullough has now made game-high tackle counts against the Storm and Raiders, reaching 126 overall.