As a born and bred Newcastle man, Bruce faced an uphill battle to win over the Black Cats fans when he was appointed in 2009 but by finishing 13th and 10th in his first two seasons seemed to be doing the job.
But a poor start to the 2011/12 campaign saw him targeted for abuse by large sections of the crowd and he was dismissed in November.
He has since taken Hull to an unlikely promotion while the Black Cats have hardly flourished under Bruce's successors Martin O'Neill and Paolo Di Canio.
The scale of the job facing new boss Gus Poyet may afford Bruce a chance to indulge in a little timely schadenfreude, but he instead questions his own wisdom in taking the post in the first place.
"In hindsight maybe going there was a mistake, being a Newcastle fan as a boy...some would never forgive that," he said.
"I wouldn't say it was the utmost reason but for a lot of them, they couldn't hack that.
"Honestly, I take no satisfaction at all (in Sunderland's struggles). You go back to when it went pear-shaped - if it did got pear-shaped - and you have to look back and learn from it, learn from your mistakes.
"You question yourself: did you make the right decision? I left a really good Wigan team to go there. Being a Newcastle fan, as soon as it went a little pear-shaped they couldn't wait to jump on the bandwagon..
"I was bitterly disappointed with the way it ended. I'll never forget the day at Wigan (his last match in charge) when the crowd turn on you...I wouldn't want any manager to go through that.
"I was desperately disappointed because after finishing 10th I thought I might get a bit more time.
"It didn't happen, so you move on and Hull gave me the opportunity to get back to work again.
"When you get sacked what you want to do is come out fighting and show what you're about."
Despite the dreadful start to the season under the controversial Di Canio, Poyet delivered a morale-boosting win in the Tyne-Wear derby last weekend and Bruce is wary of the 'bounce' effect a managerial change might bring to the opposition.
"They've got a new manager and had a great win to give everyone a lift," said Bruce.
"If you're going to win one you get a win against Newcastle and it gets you off to the right footing.
"It has to be instant because you don't get that time anymore. We're kidding ourselves if we think you'll get three or four years. It's more like three or four months, even three or four weeks sometimes.
"They need a few results to go their way but they'll have been buoyed by the win last week."
Bruce was charged by the Football Association this week for his post-match criticism of referee Michael Oliver, who gave the dubious penalty that allowed Tottenham to beat Hull 1-0 on Sunday.
He has until Monday to respond and although his view of the decision has not changed, he accepts he may have said too much.
"He's made a horrible, horrible decision and I hope it doesn't cost us too badly," said Bruce.
"I'll read the letter and see what I actually said. You get caught up in the emotion of it all and say things you shouldn't say.
"I've been at it a long time and maybe I've said one or two things and I apologise.
"The hard thing for all of us is it's half an hour after the game, it's part of our duty (to react)."