LET'S have a good rummage around in the details of Nicola Sturgeon's speech shall we? I don't mean the headline stuff – "First Minister to push for second referendum before 2021" – I mean the detailed phrases, the calibrated sentences, the mix of positive and negative ions in the rhetoric, all of it tuned and re-tuned to speak to at least five audiences: the parliament, her party, other parties, the Yes movement, and No voters who might be persuaded to change their mind. Let's pick out a few of the key phrases – the ones that reveal the First Minister's workings – and talk about what they really mean.

"The devolution settlement in its current form is now seen to be utterly inadequate … the status quo is broken."

This was the keystone of the speech: the phrase without which the rest of it would fall to pieces. The First Minister talked about having to respond to Brexit, but there are so many ifs and buts about what leaving the EU will mean (and maybe we won't even leave) so she needs a back-up and it's the state of devolution. What this means – as Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has already suggested – is that the SNP could demand a second referendum even if Brexit is cancelled.

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But is the status quo broken? Mrs Sturgeon was right to suggest there's a broad view the current set-up is not effective, but as the Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles put it in his excellent one-word heckle of the First Minister – "federalism!" –independence is not the only solution. A properly federal system could make the UK more responsive to Scottish opinions and, by extension, undermine the case for independence.

"For the first time in 20 years, there is a risk of devolution going backwards."

A pretty revealing sentence this one and perhaps the moment in the speech where we caught a glimpse of the snarl behind the smile. In advance, the First Minister's spokespeople were briefing about an "inclusive tone" but the warning about devolution doesn't quite fit does it? Mrs Sturgeon has warned before about Tory leaders trampling over Holyrood, but are voters likely to buy talk about devolution going backwards when political history doesn't bear that out? Successive UK Governments have respected – and indeed expanded – the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

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"The case for independence is even stronger now, given the profound changes in the UK since 2014."

A bit of wishful thinking here from the First Minister. What she's suggesting is that voters witnessing Brexit are starting to think Scotland might be better off out of the UK, but this overlooks the fact that many No voters think that, in the uncertain world of Brexit, independence would pile on more uncertainty. Mrs Sturgeon rightly warned of the UK being side-lined because of Brexit, but she's wrong to think Brexit has necessarily strengthened independence. Five years ago, we had no direct experience of the consequences of leaving an economic union. Now, with Brexit, we do.

"A choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this Parliament."

Now we're getting to the nitty-gritty. There was a central contradiction in this bit of Mrs Sturgeon's speech but it had to be there because of her different audiences. On the one hand, she was telling impatient yessers that there should be a referendum in this parliament, but on the other hand, she was telling no voters and don't-knows that a referendum shouldn't happen before we know what Brexit will be like.

The problem is that both sides of this contradiction cannot be true. There are only two years left of this parliament, and that's not long enough to establish what Brexit will mean. And another thing: would another referendum in the lifetime of this parliament give the SNP time to get their facts sorted – on the currency for instance? Surely, the SNP's Kenny MacAskill was right with his one-word description of those who expect a second Scottish referendum in the near future: delusional.

"We will shortly introduce legislation to set the rules for any referendum."

Probably the craftiest part of the speech. Mrs Sturgeon knows there's a big part of the Yes movement that's getting impatient with her, but she also knows an attempt to secure a Section 30 order would be rejected by the British government. Indeed, it already has been – less than 24 hours after the speech, the Prime Minister's right-hand man David Lidington said he thought a Section 30 was unjustified.

Now, the First Minister could have demanded a Section 30 order anyway and hoped Scots would rise up in fury when it was rejected, but that didn't work out last time did it? So the First Minister came up with another wheeze instead. Rather than getting a Section 30 and then legislating – like 2013 – she plans to do it the other way round: legislation then Section 30.

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon planning Indyref2 before 2021 ballot

Will it work though? Perhaps Mrs Sturgeon thinks it will box the UK Government into a corner, but her strategy was only ever about one thing: the impression of momentum without really moving much at all. It was nimble manoeuvring in a tight space. It is a bit of magical misdirection to give the impression, when not very much is happening, that something important is.

"None of us can fail to be concerned about the polarisation of political debate caused by the Brexit experience."

But what about the polarisation caused by the Scottish referendum? Well, indeed, but the First Minister said she wanted to tackle the division with cross-party talks to explore constitutional change. The question is: what do unionists think they'd get out of it? In the 1990s some thought the Scottish parliament would kill off independence as a political force – in fact, it did the opposite and the same could apply to the cross-party talks. It would be more of the same. Another stage of the endless argument. More repetition of the one word that's always tap-tapping on the inside of our skulls: constitution, constitution, constitution.