But that meant a starting five spot for the lively Louis Sayers – a reward for a series of impactful appearances off the bench.
That the former Cheshire Phoenix man failed to break his duck in more than seven first quarter minutes was no reflection of another all-action display.
And it’s little wonder MacLeod likes the look of his fast-paced, quick-thinking side with the canny Sayers pacing the wings.
But not for the first time in his Newcastle career it was the evergreen Rahmon Fletcher who threatened to steal the first half show.
Adding four second quarter dishes to his seven first quarter assists, the two-time BBL MVP was proving too hot to handle for a Lions side chasing a familiar shadow.
But elsewhere London looked every bit as exciting as the free-scoring side that took Newcastle to overtime at the Copperbox Arena earlier this month.
The addition of Orlando Parker less than 24 hours before tip added further strength to a powerful inside game.
And it took a second quarter intervention from the ageless Darius Defoe to prevent the Lions from taking total control in the paint.
The Eagles’ longest-serving player proved an unlikely thorn in the London defence as the clock ticked down to the half.
And if Lions resorted to a flurry of cheap fouls to stop Defoe in his tracks then it barely mattered – MacLeod’s ever-dependable big man hitting six from seven from the charity stripe.
Locked at 47-47 at the half, another see-saw cup clash deserved top billing in front of 3,000 screaming Geordie fans.
That the biggest noise on the night came from London’s Mr Moanivator – head coach Vince Macaulay – must have been tough to stomach for those living every first half minute of another BBL thriller via the official livestream.
But Lions’ typically vocal playcaller had plenty to shout about when Justin Robinson opened up an eight-point lead with three third quarter minutes remaining.
And Newcastle had it all to do heading into the final quarter – Evan Maxwell denied a buzzer-beating dunk to reduce the deficit to six.
It wasn’t to be for the hosts. London closed the door and won by 20 to ensure Group 3 will go down to the wire before Championship action returns next month.
And although an Eagles win against Sheffield Sharks next weekend will secure a Cup quarter-final, a team in transition has work to do.