There was the wonder about what might have been had the qualities instilled by Gordon Strachan been available at the start of the qualifying campaign, but also that it will be some months before Scotland can try to maintain the upturn in confidence and belief that brought this victory over Croatia.
Robert Snodgrass talked of "the new approach of a new Scotland, a new way of going about things", while Steven Naismith referred to the licence the players have been granted to express themselves and take chances in the final third. Strachan would never permit a gung-ho strategy and the two strikers were detailed with always ensuring that one dropped back to supplement the midfield while Croatia had the ball, but the overriding sense was of players who were encouraged, and had the confidence, to be bold in their thinking.
"The manager is great at taking pressure off the boys and giving us that platform to play," Snodgrass said. "There is freedom to play and that is something you enjoy as a footballer. While Scotland have always had heart and determination, it takes that wee bit extra to win the big games. Slowly but surely, we're getting that extra element. There is a growing confidence to go and take the ball, do these things. We did that in certain stages tonight - and showed the other side, the strength, depth, character, resilience, all you could ask for."
It will be next season before Scotland embark on another qualifying campaign, but any sense of gloom has been chased away by the victories that Strachan has been able to muster. Winning both games against Croatia, and away to Macedonia, has restored a sense of purpose to the players.
"I can't remember being in a squad and having as much optimism for a campaign coming up," Naismith said. "You could say that there has been less pressure on us because there hasn't been that much to play for. But we've won three from the last four and it's up to us to show we're good enough to compete. We have to go on and fulfil our potential now. It will be a long few months because we could do with the next match being sooner."
For Snodgrass, there was also the satisfaction of scoring after joining up late with the squad so that he could attend the birth of his daughter - which he reflected in celebrating by sucking his thumb.
"Everybody always does the cradling of the baby celebration, so I did another one," he said. "Seriously, it was just nice to cap things off because it's been a stressful week.
"The birth of my daughter was the most important thing. The boss was understanding in letting me come up late and I hope that was a payback. I didn't train as much as I would have before the game and the lads were doing double sessions. But they got me up to speed and I'd like to thank the boys for being patient with me."