The road that has taken Glasgow to Friday’s Challenge Cup final against Toulon in Dublin began in Bath. Not only in the sense that the match at the Recreation Ground on 10 December was the start of this season’s tournament for the Warriors, but more importantly because it provided the first real evidence of the squad’s transformation by Franco Smith – a transformation that explains how they have managed to reach their first European final in the South African’s first season as head coach.

Up to that point, Glasgow had played eight URC games under their new boss, winning all three of their home fixtures but losing four out of five on the road, their only away success coming at perennial no-hopers Zebre.

So when Smith named what looked like a seriously understrength squad for the trip to the West Country – partly because of a lengthy injury list and partly through choice – it appeared all too probable that another away defeat would ensue.

The South African thought otherwise, of course, and after announcing his 23 insisted that the group he had selected would bring “some special energy” to the occasion.

Well, we did not doubt that they would be energetic enough, but special? How could a Warriors squad without the Fagerson brothers, Jack Dempsey, Rory Darge, George Horne and Sione Tuipulotu be expected to compete?

Smith had an answer to that too.

“I think the Glasgow supporters and Glasgow people got too used to just one group of players playing,” he said. “That’s not what it’s about. Everyone in the squad must compete for us to become a great club. To become a great team you must have a very good squad.”

On the day itself, Smith was completely vindicated, as the Warriors won 22-19. Five months later, they have won all but three of their matches since.

They are not a great team yet, but they are a greatly superior side to the one that ended last season in such sorry fashion under Danny Wilson. And they are well on their way to having that “very good squad” of which Smith spoke.

Which surely makes selection for Friday’s final all the more difficult for the head coach and his assistants. Yes, it is the last and biggest game of the season so there will be no need for rest, no reason for rotation. Instead, you simply want to get your best 23 players out there.

But who are Smith’s best 23? Tom Jordan would be one, but the stand-off is banned after being sent off in the URC quarter-final defeat by Munster.

Domingo Miotti looks like the logical choice to take over at No.10, as his style of play is more suited to Smith’s approach than is Duncan Weir’s. But before the Munster match, Smith insisted that his back-up stand-off was Stafford McDowall, who began the game at 12.

Playing McDowall at 10 from the start against Toulon would be a massive vote of confidence, yet perhaps an equally sizeable risk. Having him as back-up rather than a specialist 10 on the bench is more plausible, especially given Smith’s preference for a 6-2 split among the replacements.

In games prior to that Munster match, the two backs replacements were usually a scrum-half and a stand-off. Against the Irish province they were scrum-half Ali Price and Huw Jones, who is primarily a centre but is almost equally at home at full-back – the position in which he replaced Ollie Smith in the second half.

Such versatility is not so important if you have three substitute backs, but with only two it can be a telling factor. But can Smith afford not to start Jones, who created the Warriors’ only score of the Munster game, a try by captain Kyle Steyn?

Perhaps the best choice would be to have a midfield of Miotti, Tuipulotu and Jones, with McDowall covering all three positions from the bench.

When it comes to the pack, the most difficult choice may well be which hookers to include. George Turner sat out the Munster match but is likely to return to face Toulon, which would leave Smith with a very difficult choice between Johnny Matthews and Fraser Brown.

Matthews is in the form of his life, Brown has experience in abundance, and both men may just have a point to prove after being left out of Scotland coach Gregor Townsend’s World Cup training squad last week. Brown would be the safer, more predictable selection, but Matthews’ exuberance would ask different questions of the French defence.

The coach faces similar conundrums elsewhere in the team as well in what is a headache of his own making, given his success in deepening the squad over the past nine months.

Whoever he picks, let’s hope they bring that special energy to proceedings again.