I'm a firm believer in the magic of the FA Cup and I looked forward to third round weekend every season. Winning this competition is an enormous honour. I know that because I have three FA Cup winners' medals but just ask Alan Shearer, who lost in finals and semi-finals, how important the Cup is because it still rankles with him that he never won it.
Newcastle could certainly do with Alan now. Wednesday night's 2-1 defeat at home to Everton was their tenth in their last 13, they've sold their top scorer and are contemplating a fight for top flight survival. They will undoubtedly miss Demba Ba but I expect them to be busy in the transfter market this month. In the mean time, they need Papiss Cisse to reproduce the form he mustered last season. He's only scored six so far but, with two in his last three, there are signs that he's stepping up.
You play with a different intensity in knockout competition. When things are going badly in the league, the Cup can provide a welcome break, a chance to end a bad run. That's certainly how Alan Pardew will hope his players approach their Saturday lunchtime tie against Brighton.
But there's an element of uncertainty when you play against teams from different divisions. Newcastle discovered this last season when, in the middle of excellent league form, they were overturned in an away tie against Brighton.
That day, Mike Williamson's 76th minute own goal settled the tie and the draw/Brighton result - the match was 0-0 at half-time - appeals to me once again. Newcastle won't fancy this tie and I expect a cagey opening. Seagulls striker Craig Mackail Smith scored his 11th of the season in the 3-0 New Year's Day away win over Ipswich and he'll be keen to test the visiting defenders, especially if, as expected, Pardew makes changes to his team.
Wayne Bridge, Brighton's left-back, won this competition with Chelsea, as did manager Gus Poyet, and that kind of experience will prove invaluable to a team facing opposition from a higher division. It would still be an upset if Brighton beat this struggling Newcastle team, but it wouldn't be a surprise.
Back Brighton @ 2.747/4
Back Draw/Brighton @ 7.26/1