And so it proved, even after the diminutive midfielder stood on his tip toes and helped stretch the national team to wins in their final two fixtures in Group A.
A fourth-place finish would be as high as the Scots would go, although it does not quite match the height of Bannan's ambition. "It's a shame this group has finished as the way we are playing we feel we could beat anybody," he said.
It is enough for now that they were able to get the better of Croatia on Tuesday. The result would not resurrect Scotland's chances of achieving the play-off place for next summer's finals but it did have some restorative powers; further nourishing a group of players which had been able to nibble only two points from their opening six qualifiers.
Bannan has benefited from the boost too - a midfielder who would seem to need a leg-up to reach his registered height of 5ft 7in now standing tall as an example of the maturity being shown by Gordon Strachan's squad. That image remained even after the midfielder gambolled off the pitch at Hampden on Tuesday night as though he had just been called in for his tea.
He retains a youthful air but it is no longer stifling. A pariah at Aston Villa under Paul Lambert, a move late in the summer transfer window has taken the 23-year-old closer to his best form, while the promise of regular action at Crystal Palace has also improved his mood. It was that brighter disposition which has caught the attention of Strachan and has allowed the wee boy from Airdrie to feel like the big man for his country.
"It had gone down hill a bit. At [Villa] I was stalling and I felt I had to get away to restart my career - I've been buzzing in the last few months," said Bannan, who signed a three-year contract with Palace last month. "I'm always enthusiastic and lively, and train the way I try to play. [Strachan] has said that's why I've played and I think other players heard that so now you can see everybody is trying to do well in training."
Bannan has come to epitomise Scotland under Strachan; possessed of a good deal of talent that has been crammed into a small package but fitting comfortably into a compelling 4-2-3-1 formation.
Yet he is vulnerable to his limitations too - Bannan missed a penalty against Croatia - and Scotland must not lose sight of that as supporters permit themselves to look hopefully towards February's draw for the qualifying campaign for the European Championship.
"The more we go out and play and do well, the more confidence it brings and you could see that [on Tuesday]," added defender Grant Hanley. "I'm that way as well - the more times I play, the more I grow into it. We know what the manager wants from us."