It was a night where everything which could go wrong did for Aberdeen but their Conference League hopes remain alive following a challenging 90 minutes in the Azerbaijan heat against Qarabag.
The Dons lost their influential defender Andy Considine to what appears to be a serious knee injury early and it was a blow from which they never recovered as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat in Baku.
It was far from sparkling fayre, in fact it was downright dire for long spells, but you suspect a narrow 1-0 defeat in the most trying of conditions is a scenario which the Dons would have settled for before a ball had been kicked.
But what is clear is that Aberdeen must rediscover their spark for the second leg at Pittodrie next week.
The Dons know they must score in front of their own fans or their hopes of reaching the group stages of the tournament will be over.
Let’s hope the need provides a sense of urgency which was sadly lacking in Baku.
Loss of Considine an early blow
Dons chairman Dave Cormack and Qarabag manager Gurban Gurbanov both highlighted the poor condition of the pitch in the build-up to the match and it was not hard to see why with the quality resembling that for a Sunday welfare game rather than a European playoff.
Glass, perhaps mindful of the playing surface and having home advantage for the second leg next week, started with a back three at Tofiq Bahramov Stadium in Baku.
The senior players who were rested at Raith Rovers on Sunday were recalled with Considine, Scott Brown and Christian Ramirez adding experience as well as guile for one of their club’s most important matches in the last 14 years.
You can add Lewis Ferguson to that list too. The combative midfielder has been a virtual ever-present since his arrival from Hamilton Accies to the extent his omission from a starting line-up when not injured comes as a shock.
This was a night for playing to the conditions as much as against the opposition and the home side were happy to do that in the opening stages by hitting the ball long to Ramil Sheydaev and getting players up in support.
It was shoot on sight from Qarabag and left-back Tural Bayramov tested Joe Lewis with an early drive.
The same conditions also cost Considine dear as he was left in a crumpled heap after going down under a challenge from Jaime Romero.
Romero barged into Considine, but the turf underneath did not help and the sight of the sole survivor from the UEFA Cup run in 2007 lying crumpled in a heap in agony made for uncomfortable viewing.
His departure on a stretcher meant another reshuffle for the Dons with Jack Mackenzie moving to the three-man defence with Jonny Hayes taking his place at wing back from the bench.
The reshuffled left-hand side is where the opening goal from the Azerbaijan side came just before the half hour.
Hayes was isolated in a two-on-one situation by Romero and Abbas Huseynov, who was up in support on the outside. It was all the incentive Romero needed as he cut inside and fired through Hayes’ legs and past Lewis at his near post.
For all the mitigating circumstances about the conditions they should not mask the paucity of the resistance shown by the Dons in conceding the opener.
Aberdeen stood off, let their hosts play in front of them and left their team-mate isolated. For that they were punished, pure and simple.
It epitomised the first half display as a whole for the Dons. They had been meek and offered little, and by standing off their opponents they had let Qarabag cruise to a deserved lead at the break.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Ramirez were virtual bystanders.
Second half brought marginal improvement
The second half at least brought a competitive edge from Aberdeen, but there was precious little in the way of goalmouth action for the visitors to excite.
The entertainment, for what is worth, came from Slovenian referee Rade Obrenovic, who mixed a combination of extreme leniency towards the Qarabag players with an apparent lack of knowledge of the rules of the game.
The first caution of a Qarabag player came midway through the second half after Patrick Andrade had somersaulted Ferguson.
However, to the disbelief of the Dons the official seemed oblivious to the fact his booking of the home player meant Ferguson could remain on the field after receiving treatment.
To cap it all he booked the Aberdeen manager for protesting the decision.
In normal circumstances, you would expect the feeling the world is against them would the Dons into a late rally, but it never materialised.
A weak trundling effort from Ramirez on the edge of the box was the sum of Aberdeen’s contribution to an unforgettable encounter.
Clearly there is huge room for improvement.
"Played on a shocking surface in searing heat in excess of 30 degrees, this became a war of attrition on a tattie field." https://t.co/wd4eZqdOHH
— EveningExpress Sport (@ee_sport) August 19, 2021