"We just don't have any strikers," said the Kilmarnock manager, a concern which did not seem immediately pertinent given his side had just scored four times. Yet Shiels is seldom given to restricting his view to one match; his comments likely hinting at the part of his squad where he discerns a weakness.
You can understand why. A fleeting inspection of the Kilmarnock squad – if you are into that sort of thing – would ascertain the extent of that dearth of attacking options; Paul Heffernan, the Ayrshire side's top scorer, is out injured, while Dieter van Tornhout was restricted to the final 30 minutes against Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday, having only recently recovered from a hamstring problem. The only other recognised striker in the match-day squad was William Gros, and he is not actually that recognisable.
Shiels has not been helped with the signings of Ben Hutchinson, Jorge Galan and Van Tornhout bringing only modest reward, discounting the latter's goal in the Scottish Communities League Cup final, of course. The manager will already be endeavouring to rectify the problem.
The need to strengthen his squad with another striker capable of finding the net with some regularity would only be exacerbated were his son to leave in the summer. It is not especially enlightening to suggest Dean has been an asset for Kilmarnock – any player who makes it on to the shortlist for PFA Scotland Player of the Year is probably worth having around – and his absence would be felt acutely should he choose to decamp in the summer. Kilmarnock have scored 41 goals this season, with Heffernan and Shiels contributing 29 of them.
It is easy to see his appeal, then, yet the midfielder has also benefited from the style of football at Rugby Park, and has intimated a reluctance to return to the more inelegant npower Championship. It is a view which is catching on, too.
"A lot of people think [the Clydesdale Bank Premier League] is about pumping the ball to the big guy up top; I was surprised by how much football was played, although at this club you are probably looking at the extreme as I think we play more football than anybody else," said defender Michael Nelson, whose header was added to by Shiels in the 4-3 win. "There haven't been many games since I came here in January where a team has just got it at the back and boomed it straight up to the front man. I think you find in League One and at some Championship clubs that's what happens."
The aesthetic of the hosts' play was not the only notable aspect of the afternoon. Terry Butcher, the Inverness manager, offered a somewhat sarcastic appraisal of referee George Salmond.
"He took refereeing to a new level," he said of the official who sent off Inverness' Jonny Hayes – but his players should be commended for their contribution to a match which held little appeal before kick-off.
Yet it is a game which they were unable to win, despite going ahead through goals from Billy McKay; defeat leaving them in danger of being caught by Hibernian before the season ends. If that is a discomfiting notion, so is the potential departure of Hayes, with Easter Road proffered as a possible summer destination. Shiels may not be the only one in the market for a forward.