The venue seems wholly appropriate, almost as if it had been hand-picked back in August with Gordon Strachan in mind. Of course it was not as then Craig Levein was still in charge of the Scottish national team and the friendly meeting with Estonia was earmarked for Aberdeen simply as a gesture towards the football fans of the north-east. How the intervening spell has changed the dynamic of Wednesday's friendly.

Strachan shot to football prominence on the back of his exploits for Aberdeen in the early 80s. This was a team which was widely respected not only in Britain but abroad. Strachan has never been one to forget his roots, albeit he went on to enjoy a decorated career at Manchester United and Leeds. He won 50 caps at a time when such an achievement really was worthy of high praise.

Now Strachan has become the latest manager charged with returning Scotland to a position where the rest of the world deems them worthy of a second glance. This seems the perfect fit: a national challenge for an excellent coach who looked in danger of drifting out of the game following an inauspicious spell at Middlesbrough.

In the longer term Strachan's attempt to take Scotland to the 2016 European Championship has been made easier by the expansion of that tournament. Such a factor would almost certainly have figured in the 55-year-old's thinking before he agreed to become Levein's successor.

More immediately Strachan must use the Estonia friendly to offer some hope for the future. Major championships have become unattainable dreams for the Scots since they last appeared in one 15 years ago, with their hopes of progressing to next year's World Cup in Brazil dashed in all but name after four matches. That most recent blow, defeats by Wales and Belgium in October that left the Scots rock bottom in Group A, cost Levein his job.

Levein spoke for the first time last weekend about his troubles in international management, in what was an understandable act of self-preservation. Yet it was striking to see Levein boldly claim as a "fact" that Scotland "don't have international-class players all over the pitch" and use such terms as "crap" and "torture" to recount aspects of his time in charge. If that was indeed Levein's attitude, and of course he would never consciously show it, why he chose to remain in position is questionable.

Strachan, similarly, is not one to mince words. His most immediate issue is a defence that lacks continuity and emerging talent at centre-back. Elsewhere he must hope to be afforded better luck with injuries than Levein sampled. But Strachan will, at least, be afforded the respect of his squad. "Gordon seemed the obvious choice to take the job from the moment Craig left," says Allan McGregor, the Scotland goalkeeper. "He has a status within Scottish and British football which shows the Scotland job maybe isn't the poisoned chalice that some people would think it is. I genuinely didn't feel we were that far away from success under Craig Levein. There just seemed to be a combination of circumstances which worked against us: injury, bad luck, bad decisions.

"There was never any question of the players not giving their all for Craig and the same will happen with Gordon. It sometimes gets glossed over but we desperately want the country to do as well as the supporters do. We want to play in World Cups and European Championships.

"It isn't as if a new manager is coming in and having to lift morale from rock bottom or convince a group of players that we have what it takes to perform well at international level. We feel we have been close and, hopefully, Estonia will give us the springboard we need to prove that when the World Cup qualifying games get under way again. We want to prove we are a considerably better team than bottom of our group, as I firmly believe we are."

There should be belief that Estonia, ranked 83 in the world, will be swatted aside at Pittodrie. Strachan, though, has made it clear that the imposition of his tactical plans for the World Cup matches against Wales and Serbia next month will be just as important as the 90 minutes in Aberdeen. Still a home victory would go some way to offering hope. Scotland have had precious little for some time.