WELL, you didn’t think it was going to be straightforward, did you?

Scotland seldom take the easy route, and it could be argued that with a few of his selections, manager Steve Clarke made it difficult for himself and for his team in the Faroe Islands before they somehow prevailed through Lyndon Dykes late fortuitous goal.

Players always seem to be better when they aren’t there, of course, particularly when their team is playing poorly. But there can be little doubt that Scotland missed Callum McGregor in midfield.

The Celtic man was taken out of the team to accommodate Grant Hanley in a roundabout way, with Scott McTominay moving up from defence into the centre of the park.

The logic behind getting a Manchester United regular into your team, in the position he is accustomed to at club level, is easy enough to understand. But there can be little doubt that McTominay’s best performances in dark blue have come on the right of the back three, and again, he struggled to make a positive impression from the centre of the park for Scotland.

Early on, Saturday night's hero was slow of thought and sloppy in possession, giving the ball up in dangerous areas twice in the opening minutes.

In fairness, it was symptomatic of Scotland’s dozy state as a collective. The Faroes had the two clearest chances of the opening period, and they both came from humps up the park that the Scotland defenders failed to go and meet.

If the theory was to sacrifice McGregor’s poise in the middle of the park for the physical presence and aerial dominance of Hanley, the reality was proving somewhat different. The Norwich City captain has become an integral part of the Scotland defence and is vastly improved of late, but he was failing to assert any kind of authority under high balls or in the face of crosses into the area.

But for terrible finishing and a terrific point-blank save from Craig Gordon, Scotland would have been behind. And you could argue they deserved to be.

McTominay grew more into the match the half wore on, and he is undoubtedly more effective when he uses his athleticism to get beyond the defence and into dangerous positions to get on the end of attacks, rather than taking the ball from the centre-backs and attempting to start them.

A lovely first-time pass would have had him directly in on goal but for a poor first touch that saw him forced wide, allowing Faroese goalkeeper Teitur Gestsson to make a comfortable save with his foot.

He wafted a shot over the bar when teed up on the edge of the area rather than put his foot through it, and then did the same with a long-range free-kick, before getting in on the right again.

This time, he looked for the pullback, but again he was thwarted by the keeper’s outstretched foot. It was more promising at least to see him in such positions though.

He burst into the box again at the start of the second half, but he again lacked composure as he shot into the side-netting at the near post rather than doing the obvious and going across the keeper.

There was just not the same fluency in the midfield though, with Billy Gilmour also less effective and less involved than he had been at the weekend with McGregor in beside him.

Finally, with the Scots huffing and puffing and failing to register as much as a faint breeze on the home defence, Clarke decided to make the change that had looked obvious long before half-time. McGregor was sent on for Jack Hendry, with McTominay dropping back into the right of the defence. But there was just 20 minutes remaining for the alteration to have an effect.

And the question remained why the ineffective Ryan Fraser was still patrolling the right wing when the attacking thrust of Nathan Patterson could have proved useful. He almost came up with the answer to be fair, as his best delivery of the night found John McGinn plum centre of goal, only for his header to be planted straight at Gestsson.

The Faroese defence was now so deep they were almost in with the brass band, whose rendition of the Tetris theme had been the highlight of the evening to that point.

With less than 10 minutes to go, Patterson was finally on along with Kevin Nisbet. Could Clarke’s late alterations solve the problems he had partly conspired to create in the first place? To his credit, and to Patterson’s, they absolutely could. With a touch of good fortune thrown in.

The Rangers youngster swung in a peach of a cross from the right to the near post area, where Dykes burst a gut to get close to the ball. The Faroese defender Sonni Nattestad matched the run, and got to the ball first, but his attempted clearance ricocheted off the chest of the Scottish striker and into the net.

The VAR check for handball seemed to last seven minutes, and then another seven were held up on the board. Well, it was never going to be straightforward, was it?

It may not be a straightforward choice the next time Clarke contemplates what to do with McTominay, either.