The midfielder's first start of the season after picking up a knee problem against Celtic in August provided a ray of sunshine in a gloomy day at The Stadium of Light.
And he managed the full 90 minutes having played just half-hour in Wednesday's Worthington Cup defeat at Burnley.
But all that was naturally overshadowed by the 2-0 loss against Sunderland.
Darren reflected: "I played the whole game, so that was nice, but the result wasn't good and we didn't play as we can, so everyone is a little frustrated.
"On a personal note I was pleased to get through it.
"The main thing is for the team to win but long-term for myself, the knee and it's rehabilitation is important and I've managed to come through okay.
"I didn't feel too bad, but obviously tired towards the end.
"My fitness was okay. It takes a few games to get back into it, almost like a pre-season, so you give it your best and see how long you last. It went okay but, as I said, the result was disappointing."
Darren's thoughts were echoed by his manager Glenn Hoddle.
"He's been out, is a bit Premiership rusty, but I thought he did excellently," said Glenn.
"He did well for us for a player who hasn't played at that level for almost three months.
"It's nice to have him at this level with 90 minutes under his belt but with a defeat it doesn't help us much."
Darren Anderton couldn't shake off the disappointment of defeat at Sunderland even though it marked his return to Premiership action after injury.