A familiar tale of wasteful finishing at Swansea on Saturday re-focused the attention on Sunderland’s need to bolster their forward options before Wednesday night’s deadline.
But it is the familiar names in a fresh partnership at the heart of Sunderland’s back four that have been one of the few plus points for Steve Bruce as this first segment of the Premier League season draws to a conclusion.
Ferdinand and Brown were fixtures together on the Manchester United team sheet for the best part of a decade.
While Wes Brown can no longer count Rio Ferdinand as a team-mate, he has wasted little time striking up an effective double act with younger brother Anton.
Sunderland’s capture of Brown could easily have spelled the end of Ferdinand’s spell on Wearside, with the central defender in the final 12 months of his contract and too often frustrating Bruce by his lack of consistency.
But, with Titus Bramble and Michael Turner facing uncertain futures due to ongoing knee problems, Ferdinand has grasped the opportunity alongside Brown to the point where he has arguably been Sunderland’s most consistent and impressive performer over the opening four games.
Whether it is the presence of someone able to talk him through the game – in the same manner as the Jonny Evans/Nyron Nosworthy partnership in the Roy Keane era – or Ferdinand feeling he needs to prove himself alongside a former England international and Champions League winner, the 26-year-old looks a far more authoritative figure.
* Full verdict in tonight’s Sunderland Echo