Craig Levein selected a more adventurous side last night, but there was no placating the fans. When Charlie Adam replaced Kenny Miller, they responded by chanting, "we want a striker". Jamie Mackie had moved up to centre-forward, but the reputation of Levein as a cautious, wary manager endures.
Levein has made improvements, but there is a lingering discontent. There were brave decisions in his starting line-up, but a lack of flexibility was still apparent. When the game was not within Scotland's control, the only changes made were to the personnel. The 4-1-4-1 formation has served the team well, but there need to be alternatives.
Allowances can always be made for players being off form, but Scotland have now dropped four home points against Serbia and Macedonia, neither of whom are expected to be challenging for the top two places at the end of this World Cup qualifying campaign. Scotland's prospects look bleak when Belgium and Croatia, along with Serbia, already have four points, while Levein's side have two. Opening with two home games was supposed to allow Scotland to establish themselves as contenders, but the results have left them crestfallen.
The manager can point out that individuals were not at their best, but a series of setbacks becomes his responsibility. Even in selecting a dynamic line-up, there was no way to raise the side above a general competency. At times, the play descended to haplessness.
Even if Levein did not accept that qualification hopes had to be restored after the 0-0 draw with Serbia, this was still a salvage operation. Every manager will occasionally feel as though every decision he makes is being scorned. The team's display on Saturday had been insipid, and Levein's upbeat assessment had seemed an acceptance of mediocrity. The outcome would, though, have perturbed him in private.
The response of the supporters to last night's result was immediately apparent as they booed the team off the pitch. In the aftermath, public option dwelled upon the conservatism of Levein's approach. He resisted the calls to include Jordan Rhodes from the start, but there was still an element for adventure to his starting line-up. Few people would have expected a central midfield partnership of Shaun Maloney and James Morrison, even if Gary Caldwell was posted behind them in the holding role. The inclusion of Jamie Mackie and James Forrest on the flanks was an attempt to bring pace and energy to the team. It wasn't a rash selection by the manager, but the boldness of his thinking was evident.
The changes in personnel could not immediately transform Scotland, though. Players who looked forlorn on Saturday continued to be drab performers. Morrison would normally be considered an essential figure in the team, but his fresh-air swipe at the ball when it fell towards him in the penalty area was unusually clumsy. He is normally a sophisticated player, but there was instead a careworn air to his game. In truth, though, no player was capable of performing at their highest level. Forrest was eager, and dynamic in possession, but his interventions were sporadic. Maloney, too, was busy, but the crowded area of the middle of the field tended to be too cluttered for him to make an impact. The players made a relentless effort to appear upbeat after the Serbia game, but Macedonia's goal rendered that futile.
Any remaining composure was immediately discarded and the performance was lacking in any kind of authority or command. Caldwell was ostensibly marking Goran Pandev, but at times Macedonia were committing four players forward and Scotland looked aghast. Mackie and Paul Dixon, on the left flank, could not even complete short passes to each other.
But supporters identified only a single scapegoat. There was widespread relief when Miller equalised but the visitors were still able to spring a number of dangerous attacks after the break. Rhodes was granted half-an-hour to make an impact but one header into the side-netting, and one or two half-chances, was the extent of what was possible.
This was an occasion that demanded an emphatic display, but the outcome only adds to a growing list of disappointing results.