It was early 2011, in fact, and Adam was pulling the strings for Blackpool in their first season back in the English top flight for almost 40 years, earning weekly rave reviews on Match of the Day and being regularly linked with bigger clubs.
Levein hailed his renaissance, from the days of being deemed surplus to requirements at Rangers, as a modern success story and envisaged Adam taking that club form into the international scene, where he would casually spray 40-yard passes from a deep-lying midfield role as if he were an NFL quarterback. Adam's star, undoubtedly, was very much in the ascendancy. It would not remain so.
Liverpool would follow up their interest by paying £7m to sign him that summer and, although he played 35 times that season, the feeling lingered that Adam was out of his comfort zone.
Brendan Rodgers clearly thought as much, selling the player to Stoke City not long after succeeding Kenny Dalglish as manager, while there was a further dunt to his ego when Levein was publically critical of Adam's involvement as Scotland conceded a late goal to slump to a 2-1 defeat away to Wales. Suddenly a career that had seemed destined to rise inexorably had stalled.
The past year has brought further tribulations. Adam flitted in and out of things at Stoke, injuries and the sudden death of his father also significant factors in a somewhat disjointed campaign. His international place was no longer guaranteed either.
The 27-year-old earned his 23rd cap as Scotland lost away to Serbia in March but did not then feature in any of the four subsequent games, missing out on the glamour friendly at Wembley as well as wins in Croatia and Macedonia. He is back in the squad for Tuesday's return match with Croatia at Hampden but unlikely to feature from the start.
Manager Gordon Strachan has stumbled upon a central midfield partnership of Charlie Mulgrew and Scott Brown that has worked to good effect in recent games and it is difficult to see him breaking up that axis to fit Adam into his team.
A seat on the bench, therefore, seems like the best the midfielder can hope for, a far cry from the days when he was being tipped as the poster boy of his generation. Adam, though, takes a philosophical approach to his fate.
"If you have not been in the team and the lads have been doing well, it's difficult to get back in," he said. "I understand that. You hope your performances at club level will get you back in the team. If they don't, then you just have to work as hard as you can to get into the team the next time. Charlie and Scott are good players and they have done well in there when they've had the jersey.
"Shaun Maloney has played in the wide position and he has also done well. When other players are playing well, there's nothing much you can do really. You've just got to sit and wait. That's all I can do. If I don't play on Tuesday night, I'll be back for the next squad."
There was a willingness, too, to accept Levein's criticism of him following the match in Cardiff last year. Wales won a free kick and quickly played it to Gareth Bale and Adam didn't track the run of the Real Madrid forward who went on to score from the edge of the box. Levein compared it to schoolboy defending, believing the goal had stemmed from a "basic error". Adam, in fact, turned out to be one of the biggest defenders of Levein when the manager was sacked just a month later, but his harsh words that night must have stung.
"I had a lot of respect for Craig Levein, I thought he was a good manager," Adam added. "When you get criticism from him, you take it. That's part and parcel of being a manager. It would have been easier for him not to say anything. I hear players from some countries tell me they go away with the national teams and the manager doesn't say anything. They just turn up and go. I'd prefer the manager to say what he feels. If he feels he has to say something to shake you up a bit, that's fine.
"You learn from criticism. The manager wants the best out of the players he has available. If he doesn't think you are playing to your abilities, he is going to tell you. There are no players in the world who haven't had any criticism from their manager. If he says something he is not happy with, you have to respect that."
A change of manager at club level has brought about an upturn in Adam's fortunes this summer, the midfielder featuring more under Mark Hughes than he did when Tony Pulis was still in charge. It has given him a more positive outlook that he hopes will also lead to him returning to the Scotland team soon.
"It's been good at Stoke so far this season. When a new manager comes in, he has a slightly different philosophy on the game. We seem to be adapting to it well. With Scotland, it's been a bit up and down for me. I've not played in the last couple of games through injury, suspension and other things. I'd probably say I've not played to my potential for my country as much as I should have on a consistent basis.
"That's probably down to the way we played and the results, things like that. I always hope I could influence the team in different ways. If chosen, I'd look to do that. If not, I just have to bide my time and hope for another opportunity."