It was classic Wilkinson. He was deadly accurate with the boot, inventive in posession and, on his return to action following summer shoulder surgery, robust in a physical encounter.
Wilkinson celebrated the victory by punching the air. England manager Martin Johnson may well have reacted in the same way as he begins to plan for the November internationals without the injured Danny Cipriani.
Newcastle director of rugby Steve Bates said: "Jonny was outstanding again. The drop goal suggests he is back to top form.
"He played the game really cleverly, taking people on, varying his kicking game and causing them real problems.
"He hit a few people very hard, too, so there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the shoulder."
Wilkinson, who lost the England fly-half jersey to Cipriani during the RBS 6 Nations and then missed the New Zealand tour to go under the knife, returned to action yesterday refreshed after a summer off.
That translated itself onto the field. The "new" Wilkinson has grown his hair and cast off the shackles.
"My hair was actually so long that I had to cut it myself before the game because it kept getting in my eyes," said Wilkinson.
"I've taken a good holiday over the summer. This is the new me, taking risks. I looked at the (drop goal) opportunity and thought 'if it goes over then it's two scores up and pretty much game over'.
"If not I was giving the ball straight to Northampton. I think maybe the 'new me' needs to take those sorts of risks, but I was blowing on it as it got close to the crossbar."
Andy Buist scored Newcastle's other try while Scotland wing Sean Lamont touched down for Northampton but boss Jim Mallinder cursed his side's ill-discipline.
"You know when Jonny is on the field he is going to make any mistakes pay and he certainly did that," said Mallinder.
"We're very disappointed and we need to improve before we face Wasps next week."