Arguably the hardest thing to get right in the field of squad rotation is knowing when your team is good enough to do it.
Constructing a squad which does not rely wholly on its best eleven players is one thing, but, when playing at a level where the side is rarely going to be a prohibitive favourite against any opponent, the artistry comes in ensuring the right number of them are on the pitch at any given time.
When yesterday’s line-up was unveiled, the general consensus was that the number here was too few.
🆕 | Here is the Aberdeen team for today's game with Livingston.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) August 8, 2021
And perhaps, in retrospect, that it had been too many in Sweden, for a tie whose risk of defeat was sufficiently low that pitching all eleven starters back in again was excessive prudence, given that it was liable to put some of them on the bench for other battles coming thick and fast.
In the end, though, it is hugely encouraging that enough remained in the lower reaches of Aberdeen’s squad to ensure a result which is more than almost anybody else’s firsts have managed to extract from West Lothian lately.
That is particularly so given that football’s unwritten rule of unsuccessful former players made it virtually inevitable that the Dons would have to rally from the concession of an early Bruce Anderson goal.
It was at this very venue, back in January, where Anderson’s Aberdeen career finally trundled to a halt when he failed to nod in a last-gasp winner after strong work from the Dons’ number 3, but this time that jersey took matters into its own hands – albeit with the substantial assistance of those of Max Stryjek – to write a different ending.
In truth this cut it a bit fine, but the end justifies the means – and, with fans back in the away stand at last, what an end.