FROM the pavement outside, there was little sign of the upheaval taking place behind the black door of number six, Charlotte Square.

A gaggle of journalists and photographers spent the afternoon huddled around the railings of the Georgian townhouse, glued to their phones for the latest updates.

Every time a swanky car drove past, notepads would rustle and microphones hastily assemble. There were a number of false alarms.

But as a string of SNP figures were dropped off and quickly let inside, a picture emerged of dramatic change within the corridors of Bute House.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – widely known as a cautious politician – was presiding over one of the biggest reshuffles in the history of devolution.

Standing on the steps of Bute House just after 5.30pm, she spoke of bringing “fresh talent” to the table and referenced the looming challenges of Brexit and delivering Scotland’s new social security system.

There were casualties, of course. But around her, five new faces beamed.

Former transport minister Humza Yousaf was promoted to Justice Secretary – a position previously held by Michael Matheson, who will become Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity.

First given a ministerial role under Alex Salmond, Mr Yousaf is among Holyrood’s most high-profile figures.

As transport minister, he faced down calls to quit over ScotRail’s performance, and survived a blizzard of criticism over winter storms and “snagging” issues with the £1.35bn Queensferry Crossing.

Another big name given a boost was former Brexit minister Michael Russell. Previously Education Secretary between 2009 and 2014, Mr Russell has burst back into the political limelight in his role representing Scotland in the Brexit negotiations.

He will become Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations – a newly created role focused on protecting Scotland’s interests as the UK leaves the EU.

Another new position reflecting the Scottish Government’s shifting priorities was given to Shirley-Anne Somerville.

The MSP, who has been minister for further education since May 2016, will become the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People.

This will give her responsibility for overseeing Scotland’s new social security system following the devolution of 11 benefits, worth around £3.3bn a year.

Elsewhere, Jeane Freeman will replace embattled Health Secretary Shona Robison.

Elected in 2016, Ms Freeman is a former Labour special adviser who converted to the independence cause and previously co-founded the campaign group Women for Independence.

She is well respected among backbenchers, but came under fire last year over her alleged role in “smearing” a nurse who challenged Ms Sturgeon during a TV debate. False claims the NHS worker was the wife of a Tory councillor were traced back to Ms Freeman and SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

Finally, Aileen Campbell will take on the role of Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, tasked with reforming councils and tackling poverty.

Previously public health minister, Ms Campbell has led calls for the creation of “safer injection” centres, allowing heroin addicts to take the drug in specialist clinics aimed at preventing deaths.

At the end of a tense day, only three positions remained unchanged. Education Secretary John Swinney, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop will all remain in their current posts.

Meanwhile, on the lower rungs, Joe FitzPatrick was announced as the new public health minister last night, having previously served as business minister.

Jamie Hepburn was given the expanded role of minister for business, fair work and skills, and Paul Wheelhouse will become minister for energy, connectivity and the islands.