Matches between Aberdeen and Hibernian have attained increased significance over the last few years.
As the two sides have fought over the same scarce spoils, sitting adjacent or thereabouts in the league table, whichever has got the better of the series has always finished above the other in the four seasons since Hibs’ top-flight return.
Recent developments in Leith ramp up the scrutiny even further: the appointment of Shaun Maloney places both teams in the hands of previously untried managers who, having cut their coaching teeth with youth teams, operate under mandates to reshape root and branch, driven by home growth.
Their relative success will act partially as proxy evaluation of the judgement of Dave Cormack and Ron Gordon, albeit that Hibs’ early call to fire Jack Ross afforded their new man a far stronger starting hand than the atrophied one given to his Pittodrie counterpart.
It stands to reason that a person specification which saw Stephen Glass anointed as the ideal candidate would also have made Maloney a strong contender for the Aberdeen job, had Glass not already been earmarked for it.
Particularly given Maloney’s ties to the north-east, his already-expressed desire to enter club management and the impressive list of referees upon whom he could call, it is reasonable to assume he would have featured heavily in whatever debate may have been had at Pittodrie back in March.
Cormack must certainly hope that there is no lasting symbolism to Maloney’s first act in post being to replace Glass in the division’s top six.
Chairman and manager appear to have ridden out the autumn storm, but there is no guarantee they will avoid a winter of discontent if the Red Army are left watching Hibs’ sleigh pull away into the distance under the reins of a driver the Dons overlooked.