And then there was one. The last Barclays Premier League unbeaten record outside East Manchester fell with a resounding thud at an entranced Etihad Stadium.
The Christmas lights blew a fuse when City legend Dennis Tueart threw the switch, but Roberto Mancini's table-toppers shone as bright as ever to inflict a comprehensive defeat.
There is almost an inevitability these days about City. When there is no early goal, the Etihad remains calm, as if the collective assessment is: Don't worry, the goal will come.
Even when it took 40 minutes to arrive, with City able to create precious few chances despite enjoying a staggering 78 per cent of possession at one stage, there were no rumblings.
Balotelli had the ball nicked off his feet after a mighty Richards leap at the far post to head Gael Clichy's centre down, and then the Italian striker's own soaring header was too close to Tim Krul to beat the goalkeeper.
No matter. Newcastle were working their socks off to try and smother City's creativity, but with Clichy and James Milner helping to oil the mean machine, it was a matter of time.
The Geordies had just a glimmer of a chance to take the lead, but Demba Ba, having escaped his shacklesfor a vital second, did not make the mostof it and Joe Hart spread himself well.
They were still regretting that when Yaya Toure took deliberate aim from a central position and Ryan Taylor extended his arm to block the shot and give referee Foy an easy decision.
Balotelli teased Krul with the most impudent penalty kick of the season, perhaps because the keeper tapped the ball off the spot as the striker was making his preparations.
Wherever it came from, a cheeky stuttering run-up then a stroke into the net was followed by a "celebration" that was pure Mario, arms folded, no smile, and a thousand-yard stare.
It was his eighth goal of the season, but when City went two ahead three minutes later, it was Richards' first, which maybe helped explain the mass celebration from his team-mates.
Again, Ryan Taylor was at the heart of the action, though the former Wigan man would far rather not have been. This time his mis-control allowed Richards to pounce from close in.
It was only his seventh League goal in more than 150 appearances, and will not have done his England claims any harm
It did plenty to Newcastle's tottering morale though. They came out with renewed vigour for the second half, but when Hatem Ben Arfa managed to hit Hart's right-hand post with a gilt-edged chance, the Etihad cheered and Geordie hearts sank.
Ben Arfa compounded his disappointment after 70 minutes by bundling over Richards in the penalty area after receiving a sublime reverse pass from substitute David Silva.
Balotelli had made way for the little Spaniard, so it was Aguero who stepped up to take a more orthodox spot kick, nevertheless sending Krul the wrong way.
Newcastle did restore a little pride with the tap-in that substitute Dan Gosling added two minutes from time after Hart had saved at the feet of Demba Ba, but it barely made a dent.
Our followers on Twitter also voted Micah Richards man of the match.