Identified for some time as being among the finest up-and-coming talents in the country, there was no surprise that Glasgow Warriors trio Mark Bennett, Jonny Gray and Chris Fusaro were all brought in.
However, the selection of London Irish pair Blair Cowan, a 27-year-old New Zealander, and Kieran Low, who has been capped by England at Under-18 and Under-20 level, were not anticipated. Both are principally back-row forwards and, in explaining the whys and wherefores of how he is seeking to bolster that department, the director of rugby's logic seemed to be all at sixes and sevens, with the odd eight lobbed in for good measure.
On the one hand he stated that he has brought in Cowan and Low because of the attritional element of the position, saying: "It's an area of concern in this country. We went on the summer tour and by the finish I nearly put my boots on to play seven, we got to that point. We get a lot of bumps and bruises at seven."
However, when asked why he had not, then, selected Tyrone Holmes following the Scottish-qualified South African's man-of-the match performance for Glasgow Warriors in their Heineken Cup defeat of Exeter Chiefs three days ago, he claimed that the decision had come down to a choice between Holmes and his clubmate Chris Fusaro. For all those concerns about the depth in the back row, Johnson was also emphatic that Stuart McInally will not be considered as cover for that position as all concerned remain committed to turning the Edinburgh forward into a hooker.
Given that Ally Hogg and Richie Vernon, two vastly experienced back-row forwards, have been overlooked, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the selections have, at least in part, been an exercise in seeking to "cup tie" players. The need to do so has been highlighted by the experience with Tommy Allan, who has opted for Italy over Scotland, and Johnson admitted not only that the stand-off's decision had been a major disappointment, but that he still harbours hopes he may change his mind.
"I haven't given up," he said. "I left a message on his phone yesterday. It's a decision the kid makes himself. I can't make those for him. It's really clear cut; you either want to play for the country or you don't.
"We've done it. Kieran [Low] played Under-18s and 20s for England. I'm not here to critique that. The kid's made a decision. At 20 years of age it's not easy to do those things, I get that, so I'm not here to embarrass the lad. I've no issue there. It's professional, let's get on with it."
While Johnson claimed that Duncan Hodge, one of his assistant coaches, had contacted Allan to check out his availability some time before he was approached by Italy, the reality is that, as with the Steve Shingler affair last year, any embarrassment in the matter is surely that of SRU administrators once again.
However, in many cases, modern professional rugby is about considerations other than the raw emotions of bygone days as suggested in the comment attributed to Low in the official bulletin released yesterday.
"Committing to Scotland was an easy decision to make. I want to grab the chance to play international rugby," he is reported as having said.
Fair enough in this material age, but in that context, for all that some of Johnson's pursuit of more colourful language had a trace of trawler-chasing seagulls about it, his overall assessment of Gray was refreshing.
"I've got a saying, I don't like chimneys . . . kids that get smoke blown and I have another saying that we go with central heating, but to be fair on him he's been superb," he said, stressing that he does not like to make direct comparisons between the youngster and his older brother Richie.
"Sometimes there's comments made and we get on the top of the bandwagon . . . but the reality when we go into the depths of it, it's not as good as people think. That's usually the rule [but] he's probably the reverse. His numbers and his quality of work has shown up to be much better off the pitch than it probably looks live, and for a 19 or 20-year-old kid playing the position he is, it says a bit about him."
Just a couple of weeks ahead of the meeting with Japan, Johnson explained that he had named such a big squad because a sifting process is underway and with that in mind Vern Cotter, Scotland's coach-elect, so to speak, will be in the camp ahead of that match.
What role he can have seems vague, however, since Johnson says he has not checked out what the Clermont Auvergne head coach will be allowed to do.
There are also doubts over how much another who will be heading over from France will be able to do since the extent of the injuries John Beattie (chest) and Max Evans (ankle) are carrying will be assessed within camp.