The steps may be primitive, but Ross County have led the way in guiding Scottish football into its new normal.
County successfully hosted 300 supporters at Friday’s Premiership match against Livingston, with the small Dingwall faithful witnessing an entertaining, albeit far from pretty, 1-1 draw between the sides.
Having only received notification their application was successful on Wednesday evening, the Staggies had little more than 24 hours to accomplish the task of accommodating a small batch of their season ticket holders.
Led by chief executive Steven Ferguson, County pulled off the hasty operation with an impressive end result to show for it.
That should not come as a surprise, with the Staggies having partially opened their doors to the same number for the visit of Celtic on September 12.
Successful as it was, the sporadic nature of that test event, which was staged in conjunction with an Aberdeen fixture against Kilmarnock at Pittodrie on the same day, left supporters to ponder when their next opportunity to attend would come.
It was something of a one-off novelty, as was underlined by the fact it has taken nearly two months for the next batch of fans to be allowed into a Scottish match.
This weekend’s event felt different, however, with a widespread sense it signalled the start of a new dawn.
This was the first indication of football supporters seeing a tangible reward for a low prevalence in their area, which has been made possible by the Scottish Government’s new five-tier framework.
The Highlands, islands and Moray have all been granted Tier 1 status which took effect last Monday, and will allow stadiums to partially open to restricted numbers.
Without casting any assumptions about what the future holds in the battle against the virus, it can only be hoped a continued low rate in the north of Scotland will result in an increased capacity being granted during the coming weeks.
County hosted a crowd of under 5% of Victoria Park’s capacity, which is a long way from the realms of clubs financially benefiting from crowds.
The Staggies have proven they can operate with this starting point, but in the coming weeks there will clearly be an appetite for a larger gate within the constraints of social distancing.
That case has already been made by Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner, who feels 300 supporters is too strict a limitation in relation to other entertainment industries which have been allowed to reopen.
Elgin City and 10 Highland League clubs in Tier 1 will also get the opportunity to host the same number, at a level of football which is likely to see a far more direct and immediate boost.
Forres Mechanics’ decision to go into abeyance for the forthcoming Highland League campaign shows there is still uncertainty out there though, which will be shared by the six Aberdeenshire clubs who fall outwith the Tier 1 restrictions.
Friday was not the vibrant Dingwall matchday fans would typically know, and nobody can expect the usual post-match outpouring to the local bars any time soon.
It is clearly a step in the right direction, however. The sight of a home crowd did not just inject a spring into the step of the Staggies players, with Livi manager Gary Holt markedly buoyed by the long-awaited sight of supporters.
After the match, Holt said: “I know they were home fans, but I’m standing there with the biggest smile on my face, looking across and seeing 300 folk sitting and enjoying the game.
“They probably went home thinking that was a really good game of football, and that’s why we are in it.”
That underlines how rife the consensus is that, in Jock Stein’s words, “football without the fans is nothing”.