The outcome of Tuesday's Champions League qualifier against Shakhter Karagandy in Kazakhstan might not have been what the giant Dutchman had in mind for his maiden start for Celtic.
However, he is not inexperienced in the matter of trying to overcome a disadvantageous first-leg result in the quest for European football. In last season's Eredivisie play-offs for the Europa League, his Groningen side crashed to a 5-1 defeat to ADO Den Haag in the first game.
Van Dijk came into the starting line-up for the return and scored twice as they recorded the mirror image of that result to take the tie into extra-time, although the fightback ultimately proved in vain, with Groningen losing on penalties.
Celtic, who trail Shakhter 2-0, famously suffered a similar near miss under Gordon Strachan in 2007, when they beat Slovakians Artmedia 4-0 in the second leg, only to go out 5-4 on aggregate after a calamitous away result.
"To lose 5-1 in the first game was a little bit crazy," Van Dijk reflected. "I was on the bench and came on. When we got back to the hotel after the match we said to each other, 'we can still do this'. I started the second game and scored twice, to make it 2-1 and then 4-1. I got respect from the fans but we lost.
"Against Shakhter was a little bit different. We lost 2-0, but were the better side and are still very confident. A big reason for me coming here was the Champions League and if we are strong we can do it."
Shakhter largely lived up to their billing as an agricultural, physical side who defend in numbers while wreaking havoc from set-pieces, including long throw-ins. Defeat has done little to dent Celtic's belief that they are the better team and will win out in the end.
Van Dijk watched the 1-0 home victory against Elfsborg in the previous round from the stand and believes the promptings of a capacity Parkhead crowd can help provide the impetus for victory.
"They have to travel to us now, so we will see," the 22-year-old said. "The crowd definitely helped a lot against Elfsborg and I think it can be the same on Wednesday.
"I expect Shakhter to sit in. They did that last week and I think they will do it even more here. We will have to be patient, not concede and score three or four goals ourselves. In Kazakhstan we were the superior team, we had the ball all the time and created chances. We didn't take them, but I hope we will on Wednesday."
Van Dijk and his central defensive partner Steven Mouyokolo looked uncertain at times in Kazakhstan, but the Dutchman feels the pairing has potential.
"It wasn't the easiest to come in, but I was very happy to make my first competitive start," he said. "I think we played well and were unlucky. I think the partnership was good until the second goal when we were just a little bit unlucky with the deflection. Maybe it didn't look so good, but I think it was good."
Strachan, part of the ITV4 coverage team for the match, admitted he had been angered by his own station's commentary. The Scotland manager said: "I was listening to Jon Champion who is a good friend of mine, but I thought 'this is wrong'.
"I didn't think Celtic were as bad as he was making them out to be and I was screaming at the producer to tell him that. They were doing more than enough to win a game of football. There were circumstances and for the first goal, it was just concentration.
"That's the thing which gets us as football managers. You look at the third goal Scotland conceded against England, that was just concentration.
"Karagandy were doing absolutely nothing. The result was a wee bit unfortunate, but I am confident they can turn it around. And you don't have to score three goals in 20 minutes.
"You can score in the 85th minute and then another one which takes you into extra-time. If you are a Celtic supporter, don't think three, think two."
Neil Lennon, who hopes to have most of his five injured players - Georgios Samaras, Anthony Stokes, James Forrest, Kris Commons and Derk Boerrigter - back for Wednesday stuck up for his central defensive pair and bristled at the suggestion the Kazakhs were the hungrier side on the night.
"Kelvin Wilson leaving was one we didn't envisage and I really brought Virgil in to play alongside him," the manager said. "To lose Kelvin was obviously a blow and whoever I played on Tuesday was going to be a new partnership anyway, whether it be Virgil and Efe Ambrose, Efe and Steven or Steven and Virgil. I went with the two big ones because of the extra height. Now, looking at the game again, the only criticism we had of them was they were too far apart.
"You get that now and again with new partnerships. They weren't the main problem for me on Tuesday, I felt going forward we lacked conviction in our finishing. The players are angry with themselves; they're frustrated and I think that's a good sign. We can't wait for the game."