The striker was given a standing ovation when he started warming up in the first half and was cheered by all four sides of what is now a magnificent ground when he came on for injured Steffen Iversen after 40 minutes.
The cheers turned to jeers when Ferdinand headed Luke Young's cross over the bar in the second half and he eventually left Tyneside with a 2-0 defeat courtesy of goals from Gary Speed and Daniel Cordone. He has yet to win there since leaving for us in the summer of 1997 having scored 50 goals in two memorable seasons under Kevin Keegan.
Ferdinand admitted: "It was fantastic. They've always been really good to me up here and I've always looked forward to playing here. Unfortunately I've been on the wrong side of the results since I've been coming back.
"It was just a poor performance from us really. We had a few chances - I had a good header that hit the ground and went over the bar, Leo hit the post, so did Darren and Steffen Freund had one cleared off the line but we're not too pleased with how we played.
"We're all disappointed. We were looking to build on Middlesbrough so we've been knocked back a peg but it's nothing we can't work on and sort out."
Les Ferdinand received a hero's welcome from 50,000 Geordies at St James' Park on Saturday - unfortunately that's where the welcome ended.