There used to be a time – not that long ago – when the league tables were not published until every team had played at least four matches. Even when they did finally appear in newspapers and on Ceefax around about the start of September the consensus was that nothing could be realistically gleaned from such a small sample of fixtures.

Back then, in the 80s and early 90s, they represented one-tenth of a season. Four out of 42 games amounted to not very much at all.

Today is a different matter. Tables are everywhere, embedded in lurid yellow panels on Sky Sports News or part of a social media meme as one set of football fans attempt to “ratio” another set with evidence of how rubbish their rivals are. Two. Games. In.

For supporters of Arsenal, however, there is no such thing as too many false dawns. With a 100 per cent record – two games in – and buoyed by their FA Cup win over Chelsea in August and an unforeseen victory over Liverpool – their second in a matter of months – in the Community Shield, it is seen as tangible evidence that the club might just be on the right track for a first genuine title challenge since Arsene Wenger was in his pomp.

Their ebullience is not just founded on a nascent league table and a couple of positive results, however. They expect midfield reinforcements to arrive in the final days of the transfer window, in Mikel Arteta, they believe they have a manager capable of leading that challenge and in Kieran Tierney, they feel they have a player who harks back to the best traditions of Arsenal’s past.

Tonight they travel to Anfield for a stringent test of those credentials. Tierney will pit himself against the in-form Mohamed Salah, scorer of a hat-trick on the opening weekend of the season, and he may even enjoy a brief reunion with Andy Robertson in the warm-up beforehand.

A few weeks back Tierney and Robertson were brothers in arms on Scotland international duty but they will meet on the pitch as opponents for only the third time this evening – their first encounter was in July. Yet it says much about the parallel lines between the two that their fortunes have seemed inextricably linked for a while now: as Scotland internationals competing for the same position and the two best left-backs in the Premier League, they almost feel like two halves of the same person.

Any analysis of Tierney and Robertson inevitably ends with similar conclusions. Both Glaswegians, they come from families who placed hard work at the heart of their own lives. As such, both Tierney and Robertson are noted for their propensity for going the extra mile in training and on the pitch. This is not just part of some primary socialisation effect, however.

For Robertson, rejection by Celtic brought a period of introspection and then renewed vigour. For Tierney, too, there were no guarantees at Barrowfield and then Lennoxtown. He signed an expenses-only contract at his boyhood club and admits he was “about seventh choice full-back”. Work-rate and his father’s belief turned that around.

Speak to former colleagues, friends, pundits and old heroes of their current clubs and you hear familiar things: they are grounded individuals who have not forgotten where they came from.

For evidence, note Robertson’s charitable deeds during lockdown, his talk of being in a privileged position as a footballer despite the sacrifices made to get where he is and Tierney – known as “Roadman” at Arsenal due to his sartorial preference for black tracksuit and trainers – turning up to games with a Tesco poly bag tucked under his arm.

At big clubs, often the hardest people to win over are those grizzled ex-pros who seem to take potshots at those they believe are not fit to wear the jersey they once graced. Yet Robertson and Tierney have earned plaudits from legends at both Liverpool and Arsenal.

“I was never assured of first-team football at Liverpool and you had to earn the right to be No.1 and that’s exactly what Andy has done,” says former Liverpool left-back Alan Kennedy, a multiple trophy winner at Anfield, of Robertson.

“I just think that Andy Robertson is a player who is the best in his position. He knows exactly what he has to do and I think he carries out the instructions perfectly.”

It is a similar story for Bob Wilson, who watches Arsenal from the directors’ box at the Emirates Stadium. He, too, recognises that the same tactical intelligence that Kennedy says is possessed by Robertson, is also in Tierney’s make-up.

Wilson goes a step further invoking names of the past such as Bob McNab, his colleague in the Arsenal double-winning team of 1971.

“Nabbers was . . . the one making sure that we played offside or whatever and it looks to me like Kieran is that same guy,” Wilson said. “He is not scared whatsoever. It doesn’t matter whether your name is [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang. Kieran has a physical presence.

“If you look at Kieran’s body build, you can see the bulk and you can see the physical power of the guy and when he moves out of defence everybody gets very excited. You know what it is like when a ball goes to a certain player and they immediately have that affiliation with the crowd. Liverpool have that affiliation with both their full-backs [too].”

As Wilson notes, fans identify with Robertson and Tierney. They have an everyman appeal that chimes with supporters in a middle-class era for football.

They are like incremental tones on the same colour chart: Tierney is seen as the better defender and yet Robertson is not a poor defender by any stretch of the imagination.

Similarly, Robertson is perceived as the better attacker courtesy of his near-telepathic understanding with Sadio Mane which he told The Athletic was “fantastic” and “off the cuff” but mostly down to his improved decision making; yet Tierney was central to Arsenal’s attacking strategy in winning the FA Cup when his forward passes created two opportunities for Aubameyang to take Arsenal past Chelsea at Wembley last month.

John Rankin, Robertson’s former team-mate at Dundee United, says it is instantly discernible where his best attributes come from but he could just as easily be speaking about Tierney.

Rankin says that when the players at Tannadice witnessed Robertson’s natural enthusiasm for the game they were motivated to give over time to helping him develop.

“We had more patience with him because he was desperate to learn. Senior pros are wanting to help players like that. As soon as you knew that he wanted to help himself, he wanted to learn, he wanted to ask questions, he wanted to improve every single day, then we wanted to help him.”

This chimes with Tierney’s past, too. One of seeking constant improvement having overcome adversity from the outset not least when it came to injuries of which he has sustained his fair share, his determination to play through pain, dislocating his collarbone three times in the game against West Ham last December, impressed Arteta not so much for the feat of endurance but by his commitment to the cause.

Tonight presents an early barometer regarding just how plausible an Arsenal challenge to Liverpool might be. It also gives Scots another chance to see just how far their favourite sons have come.