It is said that hindsight is 20/20 - one of the tasks for the Covid inquiry is to assess how reasonable an excuse that is for the UK's comparatively woeful response when pandemic struck.

As Nicola Sturgeon made her debut appearance (she will be back again to discuss the Scottish Government's actual response) the evidence reflected on the shadow cast by 2009's H1N1 'swine' flu experience, when she was then Scotland's health secretary.

In Scotland, the infection resulted in 1500 hospitalisations but no deaths.

It "did not unfold in the way that the plans and worst case scenarios expected they would," said Ms Sturgeon, adding that no plan "will ever completely replicate what happens in reality".

READ MORE: Glasgow scientists find gene that stops bird flu spreading

The two lessons were clear, she added: any pandemic plan had to be "adaptable and flexible" to the circumstances (it should not be a case of governments trying to "make the pandemic fit the plan") and work must be done to "operationalise" whatever is set out on paper.

So how did they do?

The Herald:

By 2011, the Scottish Government had drafted a new pandemic preparedness plan drawing on the swine flu experience, but - as the inquiry lawyer noted - it failed to look beyond influenza.

It was, he said, "inadequate".

By narrowing the focus to flu, the possibility of what other countermeasures - from diagnostic testing to contact tracing - could be applied across various unpredictable scenarios ("transmission, viral load, incubation period, severity") had been overlooked.

Ms Sturgeon insisted that it would be wrong to say that the plan had "no utility" for Covid, but pressed on whether the 2011 plan "didn't provide the thinking or tools" to be able to deal with a non-flu pandemic, Ms Sturgeon conceded "that is fair".

READ MORE: 'No plan could have helped Scotland cope', Jeane Freeman tells Covid inquiry 

In subsequent years, various pandemic planning exercises - the UK-wide Operation Cygnus for flu; the Scottish Government's Operation Silver Swan, also for flu; and the Scottish Government's Operation Iris, a one-day tabletop exercise anticipating how to deal with an outbreak (rather a pandemic) of the coronaviruses, SARS or MERS - were carried out, but by the time 2020 arrived many of their recommendations still remained in limbo.

This included guidance for the health and social care sector.

The Herald:

The 2011 strategy was never updated, and by 2018 financial and human resources were being ploughed into preparing for a no-deal Brexit instead - something Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government was "not at all happy about".

This provided one of the flashpoints of the day's evidence as the former First Minister was grilled on whether that was a "false economy" given that a potential viral pandemic was ranked, even then, as the "greatest threat facing the nation".

READ MORE: Sturgeon tells Covid inquiry 'we didn't get everything right'

Ms Sturgeon was reprimanded by the inquiry lawyer that "this is a witness box not a soap box" as she replied that "every aspect of Brexit has been a false economy in my opinion".

There were other attempts to draw some clear blue water between the attitudes taken by Holyrood and Westminster as the pandemic wound on.

In her opening remarks, Ms Sturgeon said that "the Government I led did our best to take the best possible decisions", conceding that it "didn't get everything right".

The Herald:

Later, she added: "It was never the case when Covid struck that we just accepted as a given that a reasonable worst case scenario was going to unfold.

"It was our determination from the outset to do everything we could to suppress it to the maximum.

"The questions that I think it's important for us all to consider very frankly is could or should we have done more to suppress to the maximum Covid.

"Speaking on behalf of the Government I led at the time, it was never the case that we just accepted there is a level of harm that is going to be done by this virus...later on it became one of the points of difference between the Scottish and the UK governments - the extent to which we were still seeking to suppress as opposed to live with the virus."