Rugby League’s road to Wembley has never started geographically further away from the great stadium or in a more remote spot than it did on the north side of Scotland’s third city on Saturday.

A week ahead of witnessing the glamour that surrounds the big kick off in the other code’s oldest tournament at Scotland’s home of rugby and just a few months after joining the northern hordes who descended upon England’s national stadium in the last match that was played in the Challenge Cup, standing on the sidelines at Aberdeen’s Woodside Sports Centre was a very different sporting experience.

This is the point at which sportswriters traditionally revert to condescension, making glib suggestions that this is what sport is truly all about. In reality every one of us, players, officials and spectators alike would, of course, much rather be at Murrayfield or Wembley, but there is nothing patronising about acknowledging that admiration is due to those whose passion for the sport they love sees them contend with what faced Aberdeen Warriors coach Craig Parslow and his team.

This season’s Challenge Cup got underway, then, on a ground that boasts no grandstand but at which - from under a gazebo erected at one corner of the pitch - programmes doubling as an entry fee were sold to the 40 or 50 attendees. Underfoot conditions on a pitch more frequently used by Aberdeenshire RFC, might most kindly be described as undulating. Overhead the contrast with the glorious conditions that greeted the August’s final when Hull met Warrington Wolves, was also striking on a miserably bleak day in the north east. And whereas that showpiece swung in both directions as the Wolves surged into a deserved lead before Hull made a dramatic winning comeback, there was not the slightest chance of any drama on Saturday.

These clubs had met before and while Edinburgh Eagles enjoyed a couple of first round successes on the road some years ago, there was even less chance of a first home win in this competition than there was three years ago. Then, Pilkington Recs - formed out of the sports club set up by for employees of the famous Pilkington glass company in the rugby league heartland of St Helens - were competing in the third division of the National Conference League, the competition the Scottish champions are aspiring to join. The gulf has only widened as Parslow noted.

“This is our fourth year in this and they’ve bounced up three divisions since we played them the first time,” he said.

“Pilkington went to the fourth round last year and got knocked out by Halifax.”

Just fielding a team had been a triumph.

“With the Union season still on we’ve lost a lot of players to the BT Scottish Cup and there were a lot of re-scheduled games as well,” said Parslow.

“Even the lads who prefer rugby league will keep playing union at lower level because it keeps them going until the summer when we’ve got our games.

“At the moment we’ve got a guy who lives in London and plays for us. One of today’s team, Lewis Clark, was working in Gala at one o’clock this morning. We’ve got two lads aged 16 and 17, Jack Stevenson and Jordan Gray, who play at the Halifax academy, part of the Rugby League academy, who we called upon early in the week to come up. They grabbed the chance and the academy know they’re from Aberdeen so were more than happy for them to come up and represent their club.”

Traffic congestion on the Bridge of Dee meant Clark - a power line engineer who had been responding to an emergency call in the early hours of Saturday morning – arrived late so dropped out of the starting line-up. His quality was demonstrated soon after he took the field late in the first half as he launched the move which ended with Cameron Robertson scoring the first of their tries, but the visitors were already comfortably ahead at that stage, 22-4 ahead.

Damian Gennochio, another homegrown youngster who is in Scotland’s under-19 squad, claimed a second Warriors touchdown midway through the second half, but that was a rare moment of relief for his side as their well drilled, more match fit opponents, maintained the pressure on the way to a 62-8 victory.

“The guys were a bit down on themselves and we had to put this in perspective. We played five games of rugby league last year. They played 28 games last season, they’ve had warm-up matches and three games a week since the start of January. We haven’t been together as a collective this year until we stepped on the park,” Parslow noted.

He might also want to point out to them that their fellow Warriors from Wigan suffered a 62 point hammering during last season’s Super League, yet went on to become champions with victory over Warrington in the Grand Final and the parallels go beyond the scoreline.

Amidst the muck and the glaur it was quite clear that there is both spirit and ability in the weakened Warriors ranks and that they could turn things around pretty rapidly with more exposure to matches and the additional incentive to train more frequently.

In itself the task that confronted them on Saturday was utterly hopeless. The same, though, cannot be said of domestic rugby league while men like Parslow are determined to breathe life into it.