The post-Gordon Strachan era began with a 1-0 defeat by Holland but the Tartan Army left Pittodrie last night with reasons to be upbeat about the national team’s future prospects.
Interim manager Malky Mackay named an inexperienced side to take on the Dutch but it was an encouraging display in front of a crowd of 17,833.
Aberdeen’s Ryan Christie did his chances of being involved in the Scotland set-up again no harm with an accomplished display on his international debut, while captain for the night Kieran Tierney impressed as a makeshift central defender.
Kenny McLean, the other Dons player in the starting line-up, wasn’t quite as influential but more than held his own on his second start in a dark blue jersey.
Moments of excitement were few and far between during a low key opening 45 minutes but Scotland performed reasonably well and carved up several promising opportunities.
However they went into the interval behind after Memphis Depay, who looked to have been in an offside position, tapped home after 40 minutes.
Scotland created a couple of decent openings in the second half but were unable to find a way past Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen.
Christie, former Dons captain Ryan Jack, now of Rangers, and Celtic’s Callum McGregor made their international debuts with only five players who started last month’s 2-2 draw in Slovenia included in the line-up.
That match in Ljubljana proved to be Strachan’s last and Mackay was intent on using the friendly as an opportunity for fringe players to stake a claim for the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
McLean earned his second cap, while his Dons team-mate Graeme Shinnie was named on the bench.
Celtic defender Tierney, 20, captained the side in the absence of Scott Brown and Darren Fletcher on only his ninth appearance.
Like Scotland, the Dutch failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup after finishing third in their group behind France and Sweden.
Dick Advocaat, in his penultimate match as Dutch head coach, still had an experienced and talented squad at his disposal with Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, Roma’s Kevin Strootman and Manchester United’s Daley Blind all starting.
In an ill-timed radio interview just a few hours before kick-off, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan ruled Mackay out of contention for the Scotland job permanently to end the notion this friendly was an audition.
Jack’s first touch in international football was a nervous one.
The Rangers player, who was jeered by some home supporters, was short with a pass back to goalkeeper Craig Gordon, almost allowing Ryan Babel an early chance in the first minute.
But Scotland looked lively going forward with Matt Phillips and James Forrest both having efforts blocked before West Brom’s Phillips almost profited when van Dijk failed to deal with Tierney’s punt forward.
Scotland’s makeshift defence – with Jack at right back and Tierney central – looked jittery, with Christophe Berra and Tierney clashing heads under no pressure from an opposing player following a breakdown of communication.
Mackay would have been pleased with the way his inexperienced side had settled, with Tierney testing Barcelona keeper Cillessen with a powerful long-range shot.
But the good work was undone five minutes before the break when the Scots were caught out by a swift counter-attack, culminating in Babel crossing for Memphis Depay to prod home.
Scotland, who made a change at the break with Charlie Mulgrew stepping in for Berra, created the first chance of the second half with Hibs midfielder John McGinn going close s after fine build-up play involving Jack and James Forrest.
The Dutch began to show their class as the game wore on, enjoying periods of possession with the hosts struggling to gain a foothold.
McGregor had also made some meaningful contributions on his first start and went close in the 68th minute with a shot that was palmed away by Cillessen.
Bournemouth winger Ryan Fraser, back on his old stomping ground, almost made an immediate impact after replacing Forrest when he darted past Nathan Ake before dragging a shot just wide of the post.
Nottingham Forest forward Jason Cummings came on for his debut with three minutes to go and should have scored straight away but fired straight at Cillessen from 10 yards out.