As Fraser Hornby bore menacingly down on the Kilmarnock box, chopping cleverly inside to open the angle for a right-footed curler, Aberdeen’s goal-starved supporters will have shifted forward in their armchairs, sensing a moment to turn the team’s fortunes.
A moment for the radical deadline-day gambles to begin paying off.
They would have been correct, in a painful and unexpected fashion. For it was not Kilmarnock’s defence which was pulled to breaking point, but the luckless Hornby’s thigh, leaving the stage clear for another of last month’s late recruits to open the loan trio’s joint account.
Callum Hendry was certainly the least-heralded of the three strikers identified to reinvent the Dons’ failing front line, and that of whom the least was expected. But financial realities dictate that he may also be the likeliest to have a long-term role to play at Pittodrie, so it was with enormous relief all round that his impressive header finally got Aberdeen back on the scoresheet.
Contrary to the myth, the quack of a duck does echo, though it is easier to hear in a cavernous empty space. In the surroundings of a deserted Pittodrie, the historical significance of his side’s unprecedented run of zeroes will have been resonating loudly in Derek McInnes’ ears until, at long last, it finally gave way to the cheers of his previously barren men.
But thereafter, perhaps the absence of atmosphere proved a benefit to this still-fragile outfit.
With tensions among the support having reached fever pitch, thousands of voices aggressively pleading for calm from the team can easily have the opposite effect.
With the streak halted and little else for it, but to eke out as many of the 24 remaining points as possible, the team can go forth with no external distractions, or the excuses which come from them.