The understandable imperative to produce both technically accomplished youngsters and subsequently free-flowing national sides can founder on the two-footed lunge that is the awkward but undeniable truth.
So it was for Gordon Strachan in his first competitive match as Scotland manager when his instructions to play out from the back were compromised by the actions of Gary Caldwell and Grant Hanley, who insisted on passing the ball to the best player on the park. Unfortunately, this was Gareth Bale of Wales and Scotland endured 15 minutes of mayhem that should have accompanied by flashing lights and a wailing siren.
Strachan has been forced to become more pragmatic, tailoring his strategy to suit the talent at his disposal, as Scotland - along with the other home nations - desperately seeks to regain a status, even a superiority, that has not existed in modern times.
The appointment of Glenn Hoddle to a Football Association board that seeks to improve English football is the acme of idealism. Who better to show the way forward than the superb passer of the ball and the innovative coach? Cynics may mutter that Hoddle was sacked as England coach 14 years ago and his absences from squads produced more comment than his appearances in a national shirt. Realists will point out that the most significant factor in Greg Dyke's praiseworthy initiative is the absence of any representative from the Premier League. This decision owes much to the clubs' realisation that Dyke's commission will arrive at solutions that conflict with their priorities.
Dyke, who took up his post as chairman of the FA in July, has set the national team targets of reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and winning the World Cup in 2022. Even if this is as likely as a snowball winning a long-service award in hell, the chairman's optimism and energy at least must be applauded.
However, reality kicks in. A casual survey of the self-styled best league in the world shows it prefers foreign coaches with Steve Bruce (Hull City), Alan Pardew (Newcastle United), and Sam Allardyce (West Ham United) the exceptions. The best players in its teams are foreign. Wayne Rooney? Robin van Persie is more highly rated at Manchester United. Steven Gerrard? Luis Suarez is the most potent asset at Liverpool.
Dyke's problem is shared with all football administrators and most coaches at youth academies. It is this: they must make a case for the long-term in a business where catastrophe is only 90 minutes away. They must also press the argument for the importance of the national game to international owners whose only allegiance is to their club.
The road to a bright world of technically adept English and Scottish players graduating seamlessly into a team of pleasing fluidity and stern invincibility is pitted with the potholes of doubt, even despair. This, of course, does not mean it should not be walked. Spanish journalists remember with a collective shudder how near the Barcelona project was to being dismantled before it produced an extraordinary dividend.
The best advice to Dyke must be to come up with a plan and stick to it. It is certainly the line taken by the Scottish Football Association, who have committed to regional performance schools and a style of play advocated by Mark Wotte, performance director. The schools are only in their second year and as such cannot be assessed with any great accuracy but they have a better chance of success than any similar programme that may be launched south of the border.
Scotland is both aware of the problem and has clubs who do not have the resources to invest heavily in foreign players. England, in contrast, believe a World Cup victory is but years away and has clubs who have the money to buy the best, regardless of nationality.
The Dutch way is the route marched by the SFA yet any successful conclusion in terms of brilliant players may bring its particular issues. Dennis Bergkamp recounts in his enthralling autobiography, Stillness and Speed, that his introduction to the Netherlands side was marked by continual disputes.
In 1990 in the Kievit Hotel in The Hague, the Dutch players fell out over whether to instruct the coach, the peerless Rinus Michels, to play 4-3-3 in the Ajax style or 4-4-2 in the PSV Eindhoven mode. Michels, bowing to the reality that the wishes of such as Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit should not be casually dismissed, consented to 4-3-3. The Netherlands committed themselves to a style that has barely changed and to a system that has continued to produce players of the highest calibre, particularly in terms of technique and tactical appreciation. The reality, of course, is that they have won only one major competition. The ideal for Scotland would be to qualify for one.
As England deliberates, Scotland has chosen a road and marches with at least a glimmer of hope. One prays for the day when a Scotland manager's equilibrium is not tested by a pass from a central defender but from a cabal of top-class players advising him on tactics.