The build-up to the new season featured an incoherent plot exacerbated by some awkward dialogue, and now all of a sudden the main protagonists in his side are being killed off.
The Kilmarnock manager had already been shorn of the scoring prowess of Paul Heffernan before alighting in Inverness on Saturday and the trip proved to be more injurious to his forward options.
Sojourns to the Highlands are meant to be inspiring but Shiels is unlikely to have given much thought to any Ossianic ideals. The sight of James Dayton being carried off on a stretcher midway through the first half evoked uncomfortable memories of the knee injury which scarred the midfielder's first season in Scotland, while Gary Harkins, who started at the apex of a front three, had already gone off after a bang on the head by that stage.
There was already a lack of replacements, the pursuit of Borja Perez and Colin Nish having slowed because of budgetary constraints. This was a bruising encounter for Kilmarnock, then, but they kept their guard up, one defiant save late on from Cammy Bell leaving a temptation to scan the Scotland squad list for Wednesday's friendly with Australia just to see if you missed his name the first time.
"I can't believe Cammy can't get into Scotland squads. It's beyond me," said Danny Racchi, the Kilmarnock midfielder, who commended Ryan Esson for saving his first-half penalty. "If he was at a bigger club then there's no doubt he would be in the squad."
That last remark is a familiar lament. It was not the only one. This weekend's fixtures had been billed as 'Sell-out Saturday' – or 'See, we can do this without Rangers Saturday' at least – but only 3012 supporters filed into the 7918-capacity Caledonian Stadium. It was a disappointing turnout given that the match marked Inverness's first home game this season and Kilmarnock's James Fowler would also have preferred a few more witnesses after Owain Tudur Jones took the incredulous decision to butt him late on.
The incident brought a red card, but Inverness were not cowed by their disadvantage. "It shows our determination," said Simon King, the defender who signed for Inverness this summer. "We are knocking on the door for that first three points."