The kids are alright for SPL clubs
Aberdeen's gazumping by Plymouth over the attempted signing of Reda Johnson is a tough lesson in the economics of the game for Scottish fans.
In the current climate with vastly reduced TV income, the Dons and every other Scottish club will struggle to match the paying power of Championship sides.
With wages of between £3500 and £5000 a week on offer against perhaps a third of that at top SPL clubs, players will vote, as Johnson did, with their wallets.
So how can the Scottish game attract and keep the brightest and best?
It'll have to be done through the clubs' own youth systems, but can the clubs rise to the challenge? Some already are and with flying colours. Hibs need few lessons on how to produce good quality, although retaining it might be a different matter.
Meantime, Dundee United boss Craig Levein has looked at the Tannadice youth set-up, concluded bravely that it is not fit for purpose and embarked on a radical overhaul to concentrate on technique, technique, and more technique.
He arrived at the decision having realised that some players coming through the system had not mastered the basic elements of the game.
It may take seven or eight years to bear fruit, but there is no reason to suspect that well coached Scots kids are less capable of controlling, taming and moving a ball accurately and at speed as well as their European counterparts.
Attention to detail is key. With a family interest in football and track cycling, there is no doubt in my mind which sport is the more advanced in terms of applied technique and training programmes.
Clearly, it's track cycling. Not convinced? Here are a few names to help prove my point: Sir Chris Hoy, Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins. All three have proven themselves on the world stage.
At the velodrome, days will be spent sharpening a single skill such as a standing start or mastering the madison technique. In football a good number of senior players cannot control the ball adequately with their weaker foot, despite having played the game since their formative years.
Yet there was a time not that long ago when we produced players whose ability stood comparison with the best in the world.
We won't recreate the street environment which honed and refined those skills, but we may recreate it on the training ground with the kind of approach that Dundee United are about to engage in and, promisingly, the Scottish Football Association are fully behind the new Tannadice approach.
Good youth coaches should be allowed the time and the space to develop kids, with their budgets ring-fenced from competing demands at hard-pressed clubs, where survival is uppermost in the mind of chairmen.
The raw talent is there, and time, patience, and thoughtful modern coaching can ensure that Scotland can again produce great footballers.
And it's the only way forward, because the game's pockets are no longer deep enough to buy in from outside.