What had looked like a pretty straightforward second round of the Betfred Cup last weekend threw up a number of surprises and heaped pressure on two of the biggest clubs in the country, and the men in charge of them.
Hearts’ loss at the hands of Alloa Athletic had caused a mild ripple, but that was followed by two more high-profile early exits as Aberdeen and Celtic both crashed out at the first hurdle.
The Dons’ defeat was a shattering blow. The premature ending of any thoughts of finally capturing more silverware was bad enough, but the level of performance was once again hugely disappointing; apart from a brief flurry in the second half, St Mirren dominated the match and thoroughly deserved their win.
There is an element within the Aberdeen support which has lost faith in Derek McInnes. No surprise there, there are few managers around who attract universal backing and, having gone over six years without winning a trophy, it is perhaps understandable why some want him out.
It is easy to point to individual matches or decisions and try to mount a case for his sacking, but the bigger picture is of far more importance, and, while I do think we should have had more reward for the investment over the years, Derek has proved an excellent appointment and brought pride back to the club.
It will take more than a cup defeat in Paisley for Dave Cormack to even contemplate replacing him.
While the Dons have naturally been the big story locally, the national headlines have in the main been made by Neil Lennon and his faltering side.
Their collapse over the past couple of months has been quite remarkable and the manager has seemed to be at a loss in his attempts to reverse it. Chief among his problems has been an alarming drop in form for some of his key players and his summer signings making little or no impact. But that doesn’t fully explain their collapse.
I have had a couple of debates on-air with my Sportsound colleague, the Celtic legend, Pat Bonner. His assertion was that his old club were suffering more than any other by not having fans inside the stadiums, something I could not get my head round.
Every team is feeling the absence of their loyal followers, irrespective of how many normally attend; to suggest that it has affected Celtic more than others makes no sense to me.
In fact, given their results and performances of late, and the shocking scenes outside Celtic Park last Sunday, there is a clear argument that it is better for the players not to have them there in the present circumstances.
The anguish being displayed in the east end of Glasgow has of course been exacerbated by the serene progress being made by Rangers this season. Steven Gerrard’s team has looked by far the best in the country, and unless they suffer the kind of dramatic collapse we have seen in the last couple of years – which you have to say looks highly unlikely right now – more despair lies ahead for a support which has become so used to winning, it can apparently no longer handle defeat.
SPFL punishments for Kilmarnock and St Mirren show Covid protocol breaches will not be tolerated
It was a long time coming, but after a lengthy, and you have to imagine, detailed investigation, the SPFL eventually handed out punishments to Kilmarnock and St Mirren for breaches of COVID protocols which caused three Premiership games to be postponed.
The clubs have expressed their disappointment in the verdict, but admitted having breached regulations, so do not have a leg to stand on.
The 3-0 forfeits are in line with what happened in the Betfred Cup and the judgement came as no surprise. In fact, the SPFL showed a degree of leniency by suspending the £40,000 fines until next summer.
They have now set out a clear warning to all the other clubs in the top-flight that no lapses will be allowed to further disrupt the fixture list without the consequences being felt by the guilty parties.
With the bottom four now separated by just two points, the pandemic may well have an influence on who goes down. St Mirren could yet rue those mistakes made in October.