Inside the week Sunderland's play-off challenge all but ended - and the big positives that came along the way
For a few minutes the Stadium of Light was up and it was all to play for.
Fresh legs, fresh ideas. Jewison Bennette burst past players, Alex Pritchard dropped into pockets on the edge of the box and Lynden Gooch bulldozed his way to the byline once, twice and more.
Luton Town's head coach said it was like the red arrows.
At the end of a week that has been at times frustrating, at times encouraging and at all times pretty draining there was something for everyone to take forward. The prospect of a little more depth in the closing weeks of the season as Mowbray and his side look to finish on a high, and three performances that showed this team is capable of holding its own against the best in the division.
For sure, they had benefited from a stroke of luck to take something from it. Mowbray's quadruple substitution had definitely made a difference, shifting the momentum in the game and giving his side more presence in the final third. Amad's presence helped, because with a player that good how can it not?
And yet it would be remiss not to say that Luton Town were defending their box with relative comfort before Amad was pulled down in the box, a decision it would perhaps be best simply to say was borderline. Sunderland probably were due one, to be fair, and it's also fair to point out that the quick free-kick routine Luton scored was only possible because they were able to move the ball much closer to the goal from where Danny Batth's (very soft) foul actually occurred.
Edwards' side most definitely had a good level of control, though, even if was mostly without the ball. It had been a day in which Sunderland had been competitive, if not free-flowing.
The challenge Luton would pose had concerned Mowbray in the latter part of the week, and you know that because he circled back to it in his pre-match press conference even when not directly relevant to the question. The danger was that as against Stoke City, that Sunderland would try on home turf to be expansive and play their game but without a striker to stretch and a holding midfielder to protect, but get picked off on the break. So should he take that gamble, or should he make his side more compact? It would make the spectacle worse for another near-40,000 crowd, but it would probably be best for where his side is right now.
In the end that was broadly how he went - Sunderland did try to play through the press for the most part but they always left a lot of protection behind the ball. Edwards also pointed to the fact that both sides had played on Wednesday as another reason why this felt quite so cagey for the most part.
It was probably a game in which the respect both sides had for each other led to them cancelling each other somewhat, Luton pressed aggressively the moment the ball was played into Roberts and Clarke and in the end neither side had the space they needed to be at their most dangerous.
The upshot for Sunderland was that they showed they can compete against this approach, and the defensive base of Ballard and Batth, with Hume and O'Nien either side, was superb.
Yet it was also a game, a week, in which their unlikely play-off push almost certainly came to an end and the reasons for that were on show throughout. Right now they struggle to get bodies into the box, and it's too easy for teams to push up high knowing no one is going to burst beyond them. They have plenty of talent and a huge amount of heart, but on the back of a poor end to the January transfer window they lack balance.
So Mowbray was upbeat afterwards, confident that his side are showing why they will be contenders somewhere down the line even if right now they are not.
And it's why he made a rare move to speak directly to fans, thanking them for their patience and for recognising where his young team are at and so sticking with them.
"I've managed probably seven or eight clubs and every one is different - the support that this team is getting is quite amazing," he said.
"I hope it's because they can see it is an inexperienced team doing their best. Down the line I know that when they see that Stewart is playing and Evans is playing and we've signed some more players, and we should on paper be winning, that if we're not they'll let us know about that. I look forward to that expectation.
"We haven't been able to win as many matches of late but I think there are reasons for that, and it's why I keep talking about recruitment and recovery. So if we get an injury, we have a like-for-like. If we lose Ross, we have someone who has those qualities so Amad and Gelhardt can work their magic around them, and there's someone there in the six-yard for Patrick to aim for.
"I look forward to the fans moaning when we get beat because they know we should be doing better with what we have. At the moment, I think they can see we're working really hard."
Mowbray spoke of wanting to hit the fast-forward button, to get to that point where has that depth and he can bring out the best qualities of this side from game to game. Every supporter will know what he means, a sense of 'what if' even as Sunderland continue to do what they came into the season to do and more.
Phase one has been a fairly resounding success, and recruitment hold the key to ensuring phase two is the same.