Having registered four straight clean sheets, Aberdeen may not have been surprised to hear their phone starting to ring once more with admirers of defensive kingpin Scott McKenna.
Nor should they have been shocked to find themselves, having taken the standard modern-day decision to leave out a player involved in an active transfer, down and out inside the game’s first quarter.
McKenna could have personally done little about the two accidents which left Aberdeen in a deep hole before the clock hit double figures, but he had left behind a side which looked both flat and disorganised for the late change of plans.
The third though, the team overpowered at the set piece, was surely a goal the Dons would have been less likely to concede with McKenna on the park, and served as a timely reminder of the qualities Derek McInnes must look for in a replacement.
It was the type of start against which the Reds had surely been warned.
Facing opponents who had played extra time – with 10 men – as recently as Thursday night, the key part of the gameplan must have been to give Motherwell nothing early, and leave fatigue the opportunity to become Aberdeen’s 12th man in the second half.
Allowing foreseeably leggy opposition to effectively secure three points for barely 20 minutes’ work was a cardinal sin and consigned this to be a day to forget in recent club history.
Where the season goes from here – domestically and, plausibly, in Europe – may now be significantly influenced by what happens in the coming days.
While Sporting consult Covid test results to determine who is available to play on Thursday, McInnes will be scouring transfer lists with equal vigour for a rugged defender to anchor his back line.