It’s been a long and torturous route from Edinburgh to Budapest for Duncan Scott, Adam Peaty and the British band of pool warriors. 216 days of competitive inertia separated final races completed at the Royal Commonwealth Pool as the shutter was coming down on lockdown in mid-March and their return to action in the Hungarian capital.

Unspent adrenaline, now steered toward the cause of the International Swimming League, which concluded the opening round of its second season last night with a victory for the London Roar in which both of the UK’s high-speed talismen emerged victorious and joyous.

The ISL was supposed to be their post-Olympic valedictory tour, an opportunity for both individuals and the competition’s rich benefactors to fully capitalise on the once-every-four-year wave of interest in aquatic accomplishment.

Instead, its significance has grown, the focal point of the year. Not the gravest outcome for Ukrainian billionaire Konstantin Grigorishin in his political and commercial battle with the sport’s governing body, Fina. They sense a shark in the water. He espouses a means to pay the likes of Peaty what they are truly worth. The ISL, he vows, will “create superheroes.” 

Yet these are times in which mortality is a global fear. As with basketball’s NBA and ice hockey’s NHL, Grigorishin’s venture will try to exclude coronavirus for a six-week period within a protective bubble . Testing comes regularly. Over 300 participants across ten teams have their own rooms within two hotels on the isolated terrain of Budapest’s Margaret Island.

A few were forbidden from entry following positive Covid findings. Travel restrictions have precluded many – particularly Australians – from taking up their spots. However it has opened up late vacancies with the likes of Edinburgh University pair Lucy Hope and Tain Bruce getting lucrative late calls.

Peaty, one of the loudest advocates for a circuit that goes above and beyond Fina’s low-key World Series, maintains this is a “game-changer”. Slick television production with gaudy graphics and team branding out of the playbook of WWE are designed to separate ISL from the gentile attractions of the past.

Best of all, the Olympic champion underlined yesterday, is the chance to prove his superiority once more. He fashioned a triumph in the 100 metres breaststroke in 56.38 secs with Scotsman Ross Murdoch, competing for the Budapest Iron, back in eighth.

“It’s always hard coming in against world class guys especially when they’re short course swimmers,” said Peaty. “But it’s all part of the training. I know on top of the water, I’m confident. But since I haven't raced since February those race skills have dropped off a bit. But you don’t want to get slower. It’s all about how fast you can get. And I’m confident.”

London, ISL runners-up in 2019, set out their stall with dynamic dominance. Scott claimed his maiden individual win in the 200m freestyle, edging out American rival Zach Apple with a time of 1:42.74. And the 23-year-old helped cement the dominance with two further fourth places in the 100m free and 400m individual medley as London topped the Match 1 standings on 609.5 points, over two hundred clear of the Iron.

“It’s probably a little better than expected in this first match,” said London’s general manager, the Ayrshire-based sports agent, Rob Woodhouse. “We wanted to come out and be pretty ruthless. This puts runs on the board.

“We're giving some swimmers some opportunities to swim events they don’t normally chose which sets us up nicely for the five weeks ahead. It’s a great unit already.” Unlocked and loaded, the ISL is profiting from a collective embrace of normality, of sorts.