It's only been two years since Premiership managers and SFA referees met on neutral ground in Perth for peace talks.
But Derek McInnes reckons the parties may need to sort out another socially distanced get-together soon.
And the Aberdeen boss believes it would be no bad thing for opposing sides of the divide to make it a regular occurrence.
Temperatures are once again rising in dugouts and on touchlines.
Steven Gerrard’s clash with John Beaton in Livingston on Wednesday night is just the latest in a series of running battles between the men in the middle and those in the hotseats.
Former Ross County boss Stuart Kettlewell, Robbie Neilson at Hearts and Motherwell’s Graham Alexander have been given the red-card treatment in recent weeks, while McInnes has been fighting to bite his lip over numerous questionable calls.
The Dons gaffer has noticed a disconnect between managers and officials, a trend that is reminding him of the winter of discontent from 2019.
Back then it was Beaton in the thick of it as well after being on the end of abuse and threats in the wake of an Old Firm game on top of a run of controversial calls on the park.
Not a lot has changed since, with calls for full-time refs and VAR left unanswered, but it did clear the air for a while.
However, McInnes believes there may be a need to get back around the table after a campaign that has proved to be a struggle for the officials in spite of the stands featuring more managers than supporters.
He said: “We had it a couple of years ago when we had the meeting at McDiarmid Park.
“There was a line in the sand about criticising them in public and there was an understanding about each other’s roles.
“I actually thought that went well for a period of time.
“It’s something I was conscious of as well.
“It’s helpful for managers to get together in the one room a couple of times a season, whether that’s to discuss referees or whatever.
“You see managers at games and have a brief chat but we don’t speak to each other after games. With Covid there’s no going into each other’s office.
“You normally only see managers when you are fighting against each other for points.
“But I always feel, when I’m on LMA [League Managers
Association] courses with current and former managers, I come away from those meetings with
something valuable. Being around like-minded people is always a good thing.”
McInnes knows Gerrard doesn’t need back-up to fight his battles but understands his frustrations.
The Rangers gaffer felt he got blanked by Beaton in West Lothian when questioning the decision to book Alfredo Morelos for diving in the box while replays showed he’d been clipped.
Gerrard wanted answers but got two bookings and a sending-off instead. McInnes reckons the relationships between officials and managers has to be better.
He said: “Some referees are more approachable than others. Some of them are maybe less forthright and say they’ll have a look at it again.
“Sometimes they are adamant they are 100 percent right, they can ignore you and almost shoo you away. That can be difficult for a manager.
“A lot of times managers will approach referees in the right manner. I do think managers deserve an explanation, although referees may see that differently.
“If managers approach it the right way, then referees should give their version of events.
“If managers are over the top and shouting and bawling, then the referee maybe thinks it’s better to not get involved in that type of conversation.
“But I do think there’s a level of decency.”
Even when the dust has settled, there’s still not enough dialogue. And McInnes remains unhappy at the controversial penalty shout in Aberdeen’s 1-0 defeat at Celtic Park just over two weeks ago.
He said: “I still haven’t received a satisfactory reason when I phoned the referee department the other week.
“Tommie Hoban had a penalty given against him at St Mirren Park. The young boy Stephen Welsh the other week against Celtic had his hands in the same
position, the distance was almost identical but Alan Muir did not give us a penalty while Bobby Madden gave St Mirren a penalty.
“I said at the time if Bobby is right, then Alan is wrong and vice versa. But both referees still think they are right and I don’t understand it.”
The Pittodrie manager can see an easy solution, though.
McInnes said: “I would have VAR in Scotland all day long.
“I even think we could have a diluted version of VAR.
“The referee could easily be hooked up to a screen, we can see incidents on an iPad in our dugout within 10 seconds.
“We have the ability to do that, as most teams do nowadays. We can see incidents straight away.
“If that could be on one of the big screens you get down the road, without having someone else sitting elsewhere, it would be no harm for the referee to go over and see the incident again.
“You might not get every call right with it but you would get more right by having another look at the incident.
“That makes so much sense and that’s without all the expense.
“The SPFL say it costs too much and we all see down the road it is still not perfect.
“But on key decisions, it’s worth it. You might not eradicate offside calls without technology but you can look at handballs, simulation, penalties and the referee would feel more comfortable awarding the call having looked at it again.”