They wore casual, carefree looks as the press and members of the public walked through the main hallway. Steven Fletcher did not appear, but perhaps he thought better of generating even more attention, since his return from exile has been a commotion in itself and he has never been comfortable with prominence.
There is, of course, no escaping his fate. The months of separation from the national squad only heightened Fletcher's worth, and the reconciliation with Craig Levein prompted a bout of national optimism. There is seldom a sole redeemer in football but it is Fletcher's burden to live with the expectation that he alone will transform the team. Even if that isn't possible, he cannot shirk from what it means.
Sunderland team-mates noticed a difference in Fletcher last week, a sharper edge, a livelier mood, after Phil Bardsley, his international colleague, prompted Levein to begin the process of repairing their relationship. It began with a phone call, then a meeting at Sunderland's training ground. The words of that encounter may never be known, and there is an element of pragmatism to both since neither was benefiting from the situation, but an 18-month impasse was quickly overcome.
"I understand why people want to know what changed but the truth was that the situation wasn't helping anyone," Fletcher said in an interview on the Scottish Football Association website. "I am a proud Scot and it is a privilege to play for my country. I want to do my bit to help us reach Brazil."
What else could he say? There might have been an apology for his stubbornness, but the same could be said of the manager. Fletcher is a shy, modest individual who does not court the fame of modern football in the same way as many of his contemporaries. He seldom made any comment about Scotland during his disagreement with Levein, although the reconciliation began when he answered a question from a Scotland fan on Twitter by saying "yes" about his willingness to return.
His first training session with the team in almost two years was at Mar Hall. Although Fletcher is unlikely to have felt awkward, he only has eight caps – and one goal – and his last involvement was in a friendly against Sweden in September 2010. Levein believes his side has improved dramatically from the 3-0 defeat suffered in Stockholm, and there has been a sense of progress, even if the two draws at home in the opening two qualifiers against Serbia and Macedonia stirred old resentments among the fans.
There has always been a lingering discontent about the 4-6-0 formation Levein used in the Czech Republic during the Euro 2012 qualifiers, and it was that game – two years ago to the day yesterday – that led to Fletcher's estrangement. The striker was frustrated at being left in the stand in Prague, and in the fixture that followed against Spain, and he aired his views in an interview.
Whatever misjudgements and impulsive moments led to Fletcher's 18-month absence, the player who returns is also different. He has developed, so that he is more comfortable with the demands of the lone striker role he plays at Sunderland. Stronger physically, mentally shrewder and more adept at making the most of his opportunities, Fletcher is a typical modern striker. He combines mobility with power, deftness with a decisive touch, and the reality is that his return is as much about those qualities – and how the team needs them – as any moment of reckoning.
"I am more experienced than I was two years ago and I am delighted with the way things have gone at Sunderland," said Fletcher, who joined the club from Wolves in the summer. "The manager [Martin O'Neill] has been very supportive, as has Phil Bardsley. I am just happy to be back and looking to make a positive contribution."
Fletcher is sharing a room with Scott Brown, the Celtic midfielder who was once a team-mate at Easter Road. They are contrasting characters, since Brown is brazen and forthright, but they are both central to the team's fortunes against Wales on Friday. Fletcher has scored five goals in six Barclays Premier League games and the sharpness of movement and thought – the belief that the game will eventually, at some moment, bend to his will and offer a chance to score – is a vital quality for a Scotland team that looked so forlorn against Serbia and Macedonia.
The onus will be on Fletcher to be a commanding figure, somebody who alters the course of the game in Scotland's favour. That might be beyond him on his own, since Wales are bringing their own anxieties into Friday's encounter, and a game of classic British values – power, aggression, grit – means little can be assumed about the outcome.
There will be a defining moment in the match, though, and Fletcher will be expected to take it if it falls to him. That is the responsibility – the anticipation, even – that was the price of his return. "We are in a tough group, but playing in a World Cup finals is the pinnacle of any player's career and I am delighted that I have the opportunity again to help take Scotland there," Fletcher said.
The part that he must play is of a saviour, somebody who can rise above the clatter in Wales and deliver a glorious, emphatic touch.