This week Shaun Maloney was asked whether there was any chance of him taking the James McCarthy route from relegated Wigan Athletic back into the Barclays Premier League. "I think," the 30-year-old said after a pause so interminable it seemed tumbleweed may have been blowing across the Hampden Park auditorium concourse, "my chairman [Dave Whelan] was pretty adamant that I was going to stay and I have to respect that. I spoke to the manager [Owen Coyle] at the start of the season and he pretty much relayed the same thing. I don't think I would ever act disrespectfully towards the chairman in particular to try to push anything."
Ahead of Tuesday's Scotland match in Macedonia, Maloney who, like McCarthy and Arouna Kone, was linked with joining his former manager Roberto Martinez at Goodison Park, seems something of an expert witness. He played in the three previous meetings with the Balkan nation, not least the 1-0 defeat in a sweltering Skopje in September 2008 which came to define the George Burley era, and the 1-1 draw at Hampden which got this current campaign off to a similarly underwhelming start.
While temperatures in the Skopje area hover around 30ÚC, the good news this time is that the Scots face an evening kick-off, and are, in Maloney's words, "in a better place" than for the previous meeting. On the down side, Macedonia probably just about shaded the Hampden draw last September and can call once again on Goran Pandev, now of Napoli.
"At the time of the double-header and Macedonia last time there was a fair amount of negativity after the first performance and result coming into a campaign," said Maloney. "I don't want to criticise the previous manager, but this manager in terms of his shape makes it different. Night-time will make it a little bit easier."
He added: "Pandev was the stand-out player in the game here and when you look at the clubs he's played for you can understand why he's the main player. We struggled with him last time, but it's a different midfield three this time."
Maloney also seems like a good man to talk to because he is probably the first, and most reliable, name on Gordon Strachan's team sheet. Indeed, at times this Scotland side appears almost to be built around his ability to orchestrate play from pockets of space behind a lone front man. He offers some insight into the principles by which Strachan has quietly started to transform this team.
"He will ask you to do things that are difficult on the pitch," he said. "We are trying to get better in terms of possession, and it's not just kicking the ball forward when we are defending and you are trying to clear it. He's going to ask you to dribble out in your own third, so there is a certain bravery there."
For all his creative work, however, Maloney has only scored once in his 30 international appearances, a rather poor return for a man who has already got three goals in the Championship this season.
"I should be looking to get a few more," he said. "I've missed chances, but the last couple of games have been more difficult in terms of getting in to those positions because we haven't had the ball that much. You saw Kenny Miller's reaction when he scored against England. I've only had that feeling once … and it was away in the Faroe Islands. I don't have that same desperation, but I will keep trying.
"And in fairness, when Kenny scored it felt similar to if you'd done it yourself. Just playing for your country you have that feeling. And then the odd feeling like we got in Croatia, with that massive underdog win, sort of makes up for the lack of scoring a goal."
Despite having to spend a season in the second tier, Maloney is delighted for his former midfield colleague, holder of the transfer record for all Scotland-born players.
"With the sort of valuation in the market down there, I don't think it [£12m plus add-ons of up to £3m] looks excessive for what is being paid elsewhere," said Maloney of McCarthy. "I can only see him getting better, he is 22, is pretty level headed, quite quiet, so I can't see that changing."
There has been some change at Wigan, with the arrival of Marc-Antoine Fortune, Thomas Rogne and James McClean. Maloney knows they must simply knuckle down.
"Our chairman has made a pretty big financial effort to get us back into the Premier League and you just get on with it. There's a manager there I know, and a lot of the squad from last year. It's still a pretty happy place to be."