All too often it is the hope that kills Scotland but under a popular new manager they look ready to attack
Looking towards a muddy Pittodrie playing surface, as sleet swirled above it, the notion that the seeds of a Scotland return to international football's top table could somehow be sown in such an environment seemed ludicrous.
Yet the players who starred for Gordon Strachan in his first match as Scotland's manager were attacking ones. Chris Burke and Shaun Maloney, all too often regarded as afterthoughts in an international context, displayed a spark in the opening half of the win over Estonia that offered at least some excitement to the 16,000 punters who braved brutal conditions.
All too often it is the hope that kills Scotland; now, the challenge for Strachan is to build upon early glimpses of promise in matches that matter. He is under no illusions that stiffer tasks lie ahead than an average and rusty Estonia. When Wales visit Hampden Park next month, Scotland will look to succeed where they failed in Cardiff in October by shackling the attacking force that is Gareth Bale. The claiming of respectability in a World Cup qualifying group that Scotland have proved a disaster in thus far is the least that should be expected from the players at Strachan's disposal.
Part of his wider task will be instilling the adventurous approach in the Scotland team that was perceived as sadly lacking under his predecessor, Craig Levein. If that is the reality of public opinion, there is also a message of being careful what you wish for. Scotland toiled badly when George Burley tried an attacking style but were more successful when Walter Smith and Alex McLeish placed their faith in obduracy. Scotland did play on the front foot against Estonia, perhaps as they should be expected to, but the attacking variations among the home substitutes suggested this may prove a recurring tactic.
In a classic example of point-missing, it has been claimed Scotland would have been criticised for being dour against Estonia had Levein still been in office. Not only would the basic validity of the match been in genuine question in that scenario but up to 10,000 fewer people would have turned out to watch it. For all he is a fine manager who will revive his career elsewhere, Levein failed when in charge of Scotland and had to be replaced. At Pittodrie, albeit not in rousing fashion, those in the stands backed their team in a manner that had been sadly lacking in the latter days of Levein's troubled tenure.
Strachan arguably doesn't have the defensive resource to play in a pragmatic way. Centre-half is a problem area, as is left-back, meaning it was entirely deliberate that he left the defensive unit free from substitution.
Elsewhere in the Scottish formation, Strachan will look to solve the conundrum of exactly where Charlie Adam is best deployed. Maloney hasn't been nearly as prominent for Scotland as his ability dictates he should be, meaning his emergence now would be a bonus. Burke, strangely absent from an international team since 2006 before the Estonia game, is also capable of making a more consistent impact as a winger who rarely wastes the ball while Steven Fletcher and Jordan Rhodes represent the best potential strike partnership Scotland has had for some time.
It is far too early to make confident predictions about how Strachan's time with Scotland will unfold. What can be said with authority is that this is a job that excited him and he already understands. The toil of Aberdeen will be forgotten by the time Wales come calling in Glasgow; if Scotland win there, troubles of earlier months will be similarly swatted aside.