NEWLY minted First Minister John Swinney has named his new Scottish Cabinet.

It was a day of speculation, with senior SNP figures — including likely future leadership contenders such as Kate Forbes and Mairi McAllan – entering Bute House over the course of Wednesday afternoon.

But the consensus was clear after the full list of cabinet positions in the new SNP minority government was released: not a whole lot has changed.

Of the 11 members in the Cabinet, which is majority female, there is only one new addition – albeit a big one.

Kate Forbes is Scotland’s new Deputy First Minister, also taking the economy portfolio and responsibility for Gaelic.

READ MORE: Kate Forbes: Gaelic cuts risks ripping core out of our communities

Forbes had been the only other SNP politician to publicly state she was considering a leadership bid against the now First Minister.

But after a discussion last week, she publicly backed him – and her return to the inner fold is a key tactical move from Swinney to unite the left and right of the SNP.

Shona Robison, meanwhile, who Forbes replaces as deputy first minister, will take on the finance and local government briefs.

The rest remain almost entirely unchanged. The list reads, verbatim: Jenny Gilruth remains Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Angela Constance remains Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs, Mairi McAllan remains in Cabinet with responsibility for Net Zero and Energy portfolio, Fiona Hyslop remains Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Neil Gray remains Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Shirley-Anne Somerville remains Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Angus Robertson remains Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture AND Mairi Gougeon remains Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands.

And breathe.

The National: The new Bill aims to give legal recognition to the Scots language for the first time

Given the last reshuffle was not that long ago, perhaps this is unsurprising. But it does open up the opportunity – as Anas Sarwar already has done – of labelling it the “continuity Cabinet”.

But you have to look closer into the details to notice small but potentially crucial differences.

For one, this is the first time the Scottish Government has specifically mentioned Gaelic within its own Cabinet brief – which will no doubt delight Gaelic-speaking groups and communities.

Minister for Gaelic was previously a junior post but was discontinued under the second Sturgeon government, coming under the remit of the education secretary.

Forbes attended a Gaelic school and is fluent in the language – even giving entirely Gaelic speeches at Holyrood.

It would be surprising if this development wasn’t one of Forbes’ conditions for not standing as SNP leader – especially given she blasted her own party for axing funding for Gaelic development officers just two months ago. It is an issue she cares deeply about. 

READ MORE: What would a wellbeing economy look like in Scotland?

Another linguistic difference is the omission of "wellbeing" in Forbes’s new economy brief.

McAllan previously held the Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy position but drops the former in her new role.

The Scottish Government has previously been very vocal about a transition to a wellbeing economy – one that seeks to shift away from purely utilising GDP figures as a barometer of success and incorporate other measures too.

The lack of explicitly mentioning it in a Cabinet brief could signal a move away from it.

Another change is to Neil Gray’s brief.

The former cabinet secretary for NHS recovery, health and social care has dropped “NHS Recovery” entirely.

While perhaps implicit in the health brief anyway, it could signal a more deliberate policy change. 

It will be interesting to see how each of these potentially key differences play out.