Peter Reid was back at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, getting his first glimpse of life under Stewart Donald and Jack Ross.
Alongside him was former assistant Bobby Saxton, familiar faces aplenty.
Perhaps one link not widely known is between the former Black Cats boss and left-back Reece James.
Reid has been an influential figure at Wigan Athletic in recent years, a close friend and trusted adviser to manager Paul Cook.
When Sunderland came calling, James knew where to turn and the recommendation was emphatic.
When James finally made his first league start in August, a raucous away end backed up Reid's words.
“What he said, this club has lived up massively to those expectations," James said.
"He spoke highly of this place and said it’s an opportunity I couldn’t turn down when the size of a club like this comes calling, he said the fans were unbelievable.
"I saw that from day one on the opening day. They have backed us to the hilt since.
"To see us take the fans we did to Gillingham on a Tuesday night from up here, in League One, I don’t think you can get that from many clubs in the country.
“That was what he said. He said the fans will back you to the hilt and that the fans will back you as a city and club. If you play for Sunderland you will be and I have seen that."
Under Reid's gaze James and his team-mates had the chance to equal a club record against Wycombe Wanderers.
Reid's Sunderland became the second Black Cats side to win nine consecutive games in the 1995/96 season.
Frustrated by Gareth Ainsworth's organised team, James admitted to a sense of frustration. He was keen to stress, however, that Sunderland had shown their resilience again in fighting back to earn a point.
“I didn’t know about the record," James said.
"The mentality the gaffer is building here, he wants us to be that sort of team he wants us to have that mentality.
"Everyone came into the changing room disappointed that we only got a draw.
"If you look at it in another sense, if we had won this and drawn a previous away game which we had won, then it is not a bad way to look at the table.
"We want to win games at home though, everyone is gutted and we have to make sure we put it right against Walsall.
“It was frustrating because it was a different game plan to what we are used to facing here," James added.
"We found it difficult at times to break them down, they sat in and let us have the ball. Second half we sussed out what they were doing, had more of a go and had good chances. We had some good ones first half, it was just a shame we didn’t take them. The equaliser was a good reward for the fight we showed to get something.
“All we want to do is win games and you could see the reaction from everyone when the goal went in, we all tried to pick each other up, get us going. We have great team spirit and you could see we rallied. You just have to look at games like Wimbledon away, where we came from behind to win, it shows what we are made of.
"The gaffer has drilled it into us that we want to win every game. We go for the win in every game.
“We have to show the character we have got in every game, from the start. That’s the challenge, the mentality we have because we want to win every game, we want to be top. There would have been nothing better today than going top, that was the aim and that was the feeling."
Reid's Sunderland followed that winning streak with five draws out of seven, though their unbeaten run ultimately stretched to 18 games.
If James and his side can match that, they will be in an outstanding position to push on for promotion at the turn of the year.