For Craig Levein, this proved a frustrating afternoon. At full-time, boos echoed around Scotland's national stadium. Levein can only hope emotions are of a more positive nature when Macedonia come to town on Tuesday. If they are not, Scotland's campaign could be all but over before it fully gets underway and Levein knows he would be in the firing line on account of that.
Levein claimed on Friday that his Scottish side is capable of winning all 10 of their qualifying matches. Such a theory was ripped apart within 24 hours. Scotland were blunt and wasteful, albeit against opponents who should not be dismissed as hopeless. Within five minutes of this game kicking off, it was clear a scoreless draw was the most likely outcome.
Levein will not like it, but his team's inability to score goals only intensifies pressure around the situation with Steven Fletcher. The Sunderland striker is not part of the Scotland scene after refusing to feature in a friendly tournament and not declaring his availability thereafter. It is a common theme among the Scotland manager's detractors that the issue has not been resolved; such sentiment is only endorsed by struggles such as the one against Serbia. If there is one thing that can safely be said of Levein's Scotland, it is that they lack punch.
A nervy opening to the match was notable for a string of wasted Scotland set plays. Serbia were menacing in reply, Allan McGregor forced into a smart low save from Aleksandar Kolarov's free-kick.
The first clear-cut chance arrived for Robert Snodgrass, whose close-range effort was turned away by the chest of the visiting goalkeeper, Vladimir Stojkovic.
The other early incident of note involved Steven Naismith, who was fortunate to avoid the attentions of the referee following a stray elbow on a Serb in midfield. Generally, however, this represented far from engaging viewing.
The second period proved marginally more open. Kenny Miller failed to connect with a lobbed James Morrison pass when just yards from the Serbia goal, before Kolarov's latest attempt bounced narrowly wide of McGregor's right post. Naismith was afforded the game's finest opportunity when sent clean through on goal by Gary Caldwell. The Everton man, who had a difficult afternoon, got his angles all wrong and screwed wide.
By that juncture, the Scotland support was vociferously urging Levein to introduce Jordan Rhodes to the Hampden fray.
The striker, purchased by Blackburn Rovers for £8m, scored and impressed on his first international start last month. The dilemma for Levein is that Rhodes is not renowned for operating in the lone forward role which the manager has stuck so rigidly to.
Rhodes replaced Miller with nine minutes to play, to the hitherto loudest roar of the afternoon. The introduction of James Mackie alongside the Blackburn striker allowed Scotland to revert to a 4-4-2 formation, although there never looked to be sufficient time for that change to take positive effect.
It was the Serbs who came the closer to snatching victory. McGregor produced an excellent save to deny the substitute Dusan Tadic in the final minute of regulation time. James Forrest offered a response, which was unconvincingly dealt with by Stojkovic.
All that remained was for the Tartan Army to voice their displeasure. The heat is firmly on Levein for when Macedonia take to the Hampden turf.
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image: © Ronnie Macdonald