Cole, 28, was dismissed from the singing show in May, many weeks after filming began, but the show aired some of her judging anyway during its premiere, giving viewers a chance to compare the two. And some critics are wondering if Simon Cowell made the right choice by switching.
"[Cole] just kind of disappears midshow, without much explanation, and suddenly Nicole Scherzinger of Pussycat Dolls is in her chair. It's a downgrade," Neil Genzlinger writes in The New York Times.
"What was wrong with Cheryl Cole?" adds Rick Porter in the Los Angeles Times. "She seemed perfectly at ease with the other judges – and perfectly easy to understand."
Cowell, 51, said on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight this week that Cole "looked a bit bewildered" during the tapings.
"I took the view, along with a few other people, that she would have been more comfortable back in the U.K.," said Cowell. "That's what you have to do when you produce – you have to make decisions in the moment, and I take full responsibility for it."
Scherzinger, 33, who also appeared on the CNN show, said of Cole: "I didn't actually get to work with her that much. I obviously think she's a gorgeous girl and very charming."
So, who did you think was better? Tell us below.