The harsh reality of group stage European football hit Aberdeen hard again on Thursday night as the chance to take a foothold in the section was thrown away late on against PAOK.
It has been a recurring theme in the Europa Conference League. Three games have produced just a single point, scant reward for what has, at times, been an impressive effort overall.
They have been killed by a combination of individual errors and not being streetwise enough – an accusation which can be levelled at both the players and the management.
It began at Eintracht Frankfurt where, having shocked the Germans by deservedly getting back on level terms at 1-1, poor defending at a set piece resulted in a 2-1 loss.
It was the finishing that cost them against Helsinki. That was a match in which they should never have had to rely on a late equaliser to salvage a draw.
And a calamitous ending did for them against PAOK.
Everything was going to plan against the Greeks until then.
The first half comprised solely of Aberdeen defending in depth and frustrating their visitors, a sensible enough approach which had paid dividends.
The shackles came off after the interval, Miovski and Polvara scored excellent goals, and the Dons looked set for one of their most notable Euro successes since the glory days of the 1980s.
So, where did it all go wrong?
PAOK had offered absolutely nothing in the second half, and having moved into a 2-0 lead, I fully expected Barry Robson to revert to the approach which had served them so well in the first 45.
He did not do so, the visitors made changes, and they were allowed back into the game.
Barry later explained he was forced into his substitutions, suggesting that the three players he took off were struggling and needed replaced.
The manager was a lot closer to the situation than us outside observers, so we have to take his word, but Connor Barron in particular still looked energetic enough, and his departure essentially ceded control of the midfield to the Greeks.
It was a situation they were to fully exploit in a 20-minute spell which ended Aberdeen’s hopes of qualification.
Of course, the Dons should have had a penalty, but that might not have mattered had they shown better game management.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Celtic had put up a very credible display against Atletico Madrid, picking up their first point in the Champions League.
While it became a backs to the wall job after the interval, and the Spaniards might easily have gone on to win the game, the first 45 minutes was as good as anything I have seen from the Glasgow side since their halcyon in the tournament which brought wins over the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and AC Milan.
Brendan Rodgers’ team got off to a flier, and buoyed by the early goal put on an outstanding display.
Diego Simeone made changes at half-time, Atletico looked much improved, and it was no surprise to see them take a grip on the game thereafter.
In the end, a draw was a decent return, and while it still seems likely Celtic will finish bottom of the group, they did at least give their fans a reminder of better times in the competition.
Celtic’s Matt O’Riley on course for player of the year gong
As the Premiership season approaches the end of the first round of fixtures, inevitably we are getting a few pointers as to how the rest of the campaign is likely to unfold.
It already appears as if Celtic, having settled nicely under Rodgers, are going to march on to secure a third successive title – and if they do, Matt O’Riley will almost certainly have a major role to play.
The 22-year old has been the division’s outstanding performer over the past couple of months, is the complete midfielder, and if he maintains his form, will be crowned player of the year next May.
The rest of the league looks like being as competitive as ever, but St Johnstone will have to get their act together quickly if they are to avoid being left behind at the bottom.