Terry Butcher approached the pocket of Inverness Caledonian Thistle supporters inside Pittodrie and pumped the air with his fists - an effort to prevent the fans from becoming deflated but also as part of a routine developed over six matches in which his side had dropped just two points. Saturday's loss to Aberdeen would cause that record to skip a beat, but the Highland side had had a winning tune in their head for so long they just went with what they knew.
Inverness named a familiar XI, that run of six games without loss also applying to personnel - a clean record of discipline and injuries has so far allowed Butcher to recycle an unblemished team sheet. It would be likely to provoke a double-take were the manager to alter the side in a Scottish League Cup third-round tie in Dundee tomorrow. Inverness have relied on the same parts to build a successful team then, which belies the scale of their summer recruitment of 11 players. Of the side which started on Saturday, only two players had not been at the club when they made their last trip to Pittodrie.
That match had ended in a 3-2 win and while their latest visit did not evoke the same success, or conviction in their performance, there was little new in how Inverness reacted to the result. "It had been a while since we lost a game - I can't remember the exact date," said Richie Foran, the Inverness forward. For expediency, it fell on May 19 in a match with Highland rivals Ross County.
"Nobody is disappointed any more. The first 10 minutes we were but the gaffer has said, 'listen, you've been magnificent and have had an off-day, Aberdeen are a good side and have a huge budget here'. We'll do what we always do; we'll have a conversation on Monday, put it to bed and hopefully turn it around in the cup."
The comparison of budgets jars a little, since Inverness had appeared to have elevated themselves above such tired disparities by reaching the top of the SPFL Premiership.
It is a position which the club still holds by virtue of goal difference - albeit second-place Celtic retain a game in hand - and one which teams will intend to make even less stable, with a thudding kick from Scott Vernon shaking the league leaders at Pittodrie. Dundee might consider themselves capable of causing a few more tremors in the League Cup tomorrow.
"Dundee will be raising their game, just like Aberdeen did here. They will be looking at us, top of the league, thinking that they are up against a tough side and we'll be full of confidence," said Foran. "We're going to target everything; we are going to try and win everything. We are full of confidence. This [defeat] won't affect our confidence - we are flowing with confidence at the moment. We want to win everything."
It is not an uncommon ambition but is one of which a player will rarely speak so effusively. Aberdeen have favoured a sense of reticence this season, not least given the rush there has been to force the club into contention for second place, as well as an atypical run of success in the cup competitions. That instinct to protect themselves from such rough perceptions was understandable at the weekend given that five of their senior players were missing through injury, although teenage midfielder Cammy Smith showed he can handle himself well enough; the youngster possessed of a nimble, confident threat which at times made Inverness uneasy.
His side have now reached third place in the league but, with a League Cup tie at Falkirk to occupy them on Wednesday, there still seemed a need to release the pressure on the squad to maintain their momentum. That was managed effectively by Derek McInnes, who punctured the idea that a win over the league leaders constituted a rousing statement of intent with a pernicious put-down.
"Every time we win, everybody says to me that we're putting down a marker," said the Aberdeen manager. "It's just three points to me. This game shows what can be done and we'll move on to the cup and hopefully come up trumps again."