It was Annibale Frossi, one of the founding fathers of catenaccio, who claimed that the perfect result in football is 0-0. The Italian coach's now infamous theory was that a game that ended scoreless demonstrated the ultimate expression of the balance between attack and defence. In addition, argued Frossi, a renowned goalscorer during his time with Inter Milan, Padova and Bari in the 1930s, it was evidence of neither side having made an obvious mistake.

To me there seems an inherent contradiction in Frossi's explanation, one that is lopsided in favour of the pre-eminence of defending. If a striker misses a chance or a midfielder fails to carve one out, have they not failed in their duty? Furthermore, can the quality of a game be measured in a purely scientific manner? There will be hipsters who argue vigorously that it can, producing 2500-word blogs and multiple spider wheel diagrams as proof of their findings. Then there will be the naysayers who argue that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that a crap pass is exactly that.

As such perceptions of what constitutes quality football remain subjective. Take Sunday night's Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Paris St-Germain and the wildly differing reactions to it. To some, it was a game characterised by misplaced passes, poor finishes and subsequently a lack of goals. In this interpretation of events it was devoid of entertainment and therefore a 'poor game'. To others, it was a masterclass in high-tempo, tactical football, during which 22 footballers at the top of their profession executed their respective coaches' chess moves to the letter. I think I tend towards the latter description but I'm not completely sold – yes, the ball was being moved about at real pace and the pressing was ferocious and therefore mistakes were made, just as they are every week at all levels of the game, but it wasn't perfection. Of course one man's endeavours can trump another's but missing from eight yards out with only Manuel Neuer to beat – as Kylian Mbappe did – was just wasteful finishing rather than superhuman goalkeeping.

What was undeniable, though, was that errors were triggered by the traps being laid by players all over the pitch – both high up the park and in traditional defensive phases. Often, I hear people complain about a player sticking the ball into touch without any recognition of the pressure an individual is under from multiple players attempting to force that outcome or a lack of movement that is indiscernible to anyone watching on television.

Sample sizes are small and, despite a study compiled by economists at Reading University pre-coronavirus on the impact of empty stadiums on football, research is limited but it's almost certain that the absence of supporters is having a detrimental effect on the product – despite some notable exceptions mostly involving Bayern Munich in the Champions League it must be said.

And so to the fare that we have been subjected to thus far in the SPFL Premiership. There is a perception that quality has been in short supply, particularly so when the Sky Sports lorries have rolled into town. But, it's not just the televised games where there has been a trend towards the negative. Take goals scored: of the 27 games played so far in this campaign there have been 2.07 goals per match. Compare that to last season and – in the month of August when there were 23 matches played – the average reads 3.1 goals per game. In total this season, 58% of games have had two or fewer goals, the bulk of which (nine) have been 1-0 wins for the away teams. The contrast with last August, when there were 11 home wins against six away, is marked.

It's clear that the absence of supporters is having a significant impact in Scotland. There was little change in pre- and post-lockdown figures – statistically at least – in England's Premier League with goals per game and home wins remaining at a similar level but those figures are at odds with the norm. The aforementioned scientific study into the effects of games behind closed doors demonstrates that refereeing decisions are more likely to show a bias towards away teams. Meanwhile, when a crowd is present, home teams are more inclined to be awarded penalties, receive less yellow cards and have more time added on at the end of a match.

St Johnstone felt particularly hard done by in the aftermath of Sunday's 1-0 defeat by Hibernian at McDiarmid Park where they had a perfectly good goal disallowed and conceded a penalty that might not otherwise have been given.

Studies have shown that the vocal encouragement of fans motivates players to extra effort but stripped of those exhortations there is an inevitable dip in effort levels. A whole host of other psychological factors can come into play also such as the audience effect (when people perform better in front of a crowd) or emotional contagion, which is an ability to impact people through verbal and non-verbal cues. Of course, the reverse can be true and individuals can relax more knowing that their mistakes will not be pounced on by irate supporters. But, so far, the statistics don't bear that out. In normal circumstances, home teams also score on average 37% more goals than away teams. This is because the crowd expects them to attack and, in turn, they do so. But that figure is down to 4% in the Premiership matches to date. It would be wrong to draw sweeping conclusions yet, for now, things are certainly different.

On Saturday evening, Dundee United did the opposite of attack, sitting in and adhering to a rigid defensive display that may well have started to irritate home supporters had they been present. Instead, playing a sterile system, they almost pulled off an unlikely result against Celtic. The lack of supporters gave them the licence to play in a way that might not otherwise have been tolerated.

As it was a late goal denied them Frossi's 'perfect' result.