Scotland will tonight face Netherlands in a friendly as part of manager Steve Clarke’s build-up to the Euro 2020 finals.
The nations last went head to head in a friendly at Pittodrie on November 9, 2017 with then-SFA performance director Malky Mackay in interim charge of the national team.
Both sides had missed out on qualification for the 2018 World Cup so this game was very much a process of rebuilding for the Euro 2020 bid.
Scotland and Netherlands will both compete in this summer’s Euro finals.
Although Scotland were edged out by a Memphis Depay goal late in the first half, Mackay insisted he had seen the future of Scottish football.
Mackay’s future though was not as Scotland manager as the SFA would go on to appoint Alex McLeish as successor to Gordon Strachan.
However, Mackay’s assertion the future of the national team was on show on that cold night in the Granite City was right.
Many of the players who took to the pitch at Pittodrie played a key role in securing a Euro 2020 berth to end more than 20 years of qualification hell for the Tartan Army.
Mackay handed Scotland debuts to former Don Ryan Jack (Rangers), Ryan Christie (on loan at Aberdeen from Celtic) and Callum McGregor (Celtic).
There was to be no dream debut cap for Aberdeen skipper Graeme Shinnie in his home city.
Although named as a substitute, Shinnie did not get game time.
Shinnie would eventually get his debut cap under McLeish in a friendly away to Peru in May 2018.
Aberdeen midfielder Kenny McLean, now at Norwich, started against the Netherlands.
Former Rangers boss Dick Advocaat was the Netherlands manager in front of a very healthy 16,000 crowd at Pittodrie.
Mackay gave the captaincy to then-Celtic full-back Kieran Tierney, who, at 20, became Scotland’s second-youngest leader in a century behind the absent Darren Fletcher.
Scotland started the game well and had two fine chances to take the lead in the opening minutes with Matt Phillips’ shot blocked by Karim Rekik.
James Forrest’s attempt on the follow-up was also blocked by the body of Nathan Ake.
Phillips was again denied when a mix-up between Virgil van Dijk and Jasper Cillissen allowing him the time to shoot, but the goalkeeper got down low to save.
Moments later, the Netherlands took the lead with a superb counter-attack movement.
Ryan Babel delivered a cross into the box that that was poked home by Depay.
In the second half, Phillips headed a corner wide in the 58th minute before Cillissen made a vital block to save a powerful drive from Callum McGregor.
Just minutes after coming on, former Aberdeen winger Ryan Fraser had the best chance to get Scotland level.
A long pass picked him out on the right flank, and the Aberdonian raced past his Bournemouth team-mate Ake before breaking into the edge of the box.
Fraser fired into the outside of the net to be denied a goal in his home city.
Despite the defeat Mackay, now manager of Ross County, was upbeat.
He said: “As far as I’m concerned I saw the future of Scottish football.
“Obviously it was a defeat, but 18 attempts on target against Holland is sensational.
“I saw boys that can handle the ball, are tactically doing what I wanted, are athletic and working hard for one another.
“They want to play for Scotland.
“I saw a group that were technically competent against one of the top teams in Europe, whether the Netherlands are in the Euros or not.
“People talk about Scottish players not having enough talent or technical ability – but I did not see that.
“I’m very proud of them and I’ve told them that.
“That is the group with the jerseys now.
“They have three or four friendlies to play before they go into the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
“Why that group can’t go on to win 50 caps, I don’t know.”
Prior to kick-off, Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan had announced Mackay would revert to his performance director role and not be considered among the candidates to succeed Strachan.
The SFA would go on to appoint another Gothenburg Great McLeish as successor to his former Dons team-mate, although his second stint at the helm was short-lived.
However, McLeish did lead the Scots to the top of their Nations League group, which opened the way for the play-off success over Serbia that secured Euro 2020 qualification.
We will see further proof tonight how far that young side, which ended 23 years of qualification pain, have progressed since that night at Pittodrie.
There will also be evidence of how far the Netherlands, the 1988 Euro winners and three-time beaten World Cup finalists, have improved.