"That’s where we are now. This happens with every goal."

Heart of Midlothian head coach Steven Naismith had been asked if he was worried Lawrence Shankland's winning goal against St Johnstone was going to be ruled out. His answer came with a tone which was a mixture of resignation and exasperation.

The reaction to Liam Boyce's effort, which was directed into the back of the net by his strike partner, around the ground was somewhat subdued considering the importance of the goal. It could be in part down to the cold weather but there was almost an expectation that there would be a big delay while VAR reviewed it before John Beaton would trott over to the VAR monitor in front of the Wheatfield Stand.

READ MORE: Penalty decisions, Hearts consistency, breaking down stubborn defences - Naismith Q&A

As Naismith said "that's where we are now". 

The introduction of this technology has diminished one of the most enjoyable aspects of football, celebrating a goal. Instead of focusing on getting it up the opposition fans or jumping around with family and friends, a part of you is now wary of what could happen, glancing across to someone - the referee - who should be the least significant part of the entire match. Yet, here we are, the referee and his cronies, in the stadium or at Clydesdale House in Baillieston, are even more central figures.

But the somewhat muted celebration wasn't even close to the main issue from Saturday's game. For the second week running in the league, Hearts, justifiably, felt they were denied a clear penalty. Following the chest high challenge on Liam Boyce at Fir Park prior to the international break there appeared to be a clear penalty on Saturday for a foul on Alan Forrest, Luke Robinson standing on his foot.

Now, some fans may have thought it wasn't checked. But having twice visited the VAR operation in Baillieston and heard from referees as well as head of refereeing Crawford Allan, every such instance is checked. It would have fallen into the silent check category. Yet, it is still baffling that John Beaton wasn't asked to have a look at the challenge on the VAR monitor in front of the Wheatfield Stand.

This came at the end of a week where the VAR Independent Review Panel (IRP) deemed only three of 407 VAR checks, including 24 on-field reviews, were incorrect. If they had looked at all 407 it is hard to fathom just three being earmarked as wrong which is emblematic of a game where there is so much subjectivity over decisions.

There has been a frustration from Hearts management over decision making by referees in conjunction with VAR. Naismith, who is in support of the technology, recently attended a VAR meeting and called it "productive" but he still has concerns.

"I’m not sure," he said when asked if it had made refereeing better last month. "I’m for it. I think you can look at other sports like rugby and you’ve got to use everything. You can’t stop the referees from refereeing the game. The bottom line is make the right decision and who cares who makes it. Whether it’s a fourth official, an assistant or the ref or VAR. Get the right decision and move on."

VAR was never going to lead to 100 per cent success rate. It was estimated by Allan "that it goes from 92 or 93 per cent to 98 or 99 per cent success" for key decisions. Is an extra five to seven per cent worth the hassle and stoppages? Not in this writer's view. While Naismith also asked a salient question on Saturday.

READ MORE: Foundation of Hearts accounts: Donation increase despite pledge drop, board support

"It’s a penalty all day long," he said of the Forrest incident, "but are referees referring the game differently now because they’re thinking VAR might step in?"

There is no question referees can be hesitant with decisions, it was always likely to be the case knowing there was this fail safe. The most glaring was Nick Walsh's failure to award a penalty for Cameron Carter-Vickers' challenge on Cammy Devlin in Celtic's 4-3 win at Tynecastle Park last season despite looking right at the incident.  

When VAR was introduced there was so much wishful thinking. So much naivety. Why did people think it would improve Scottish football or improve refereeing? It has only increased focus on refereeing. The notion that it would level the playing field with the Old Firm somewhat was fanciful at best. If anything it has had the opposite effect. Those in the SFA corridors or part of the refereeing team may tell you it will improve with more time. We only need to look south of the border, the richest league in the world - which has full-time referees - are still encountering issues and they've had it since the 2019/20 campaign. While there is concern for Naismith mistakes are not being learned from.

One of those highlighted by the VAR review panel was the red card shown to Dundee midfielder Josh Mulligan for a challenge in a game against Kilmarnock. It was very similar to Peter Haring's when he was sent off against St Mirren last season. If you remember, that red card was rescinded.

It would be remiss to talk about VAR's introduction and the frustration felt by fans since without mentioning the lack of consultation undertaken with supporters by Scottish football in general, but also Hearts. A club which is majority owned by fans. 

Greenock Morton were the only club out of the SPFL to vote against it. 

"As a community-owned club, fans are at the foremost of our minds and it is often felt that VAR has in some ways diminished the experience of watching games where it is used," a club statement read.

READ MORE: Hearts and creative solutions as St Johnstone showed the new reality - Analysis

The Well Society, Motherwell's majority shareholders, sought input from their members before the club voted.

Hearts fans and Foundation of Hearts members are well aware of the "fan owned, not fan run" mantra but on a topic as divisive as VAR it was an open goal missed not reaching out to those who it will impact on a weekly basis. It would have been an opportunity for the club to present the reason they were in favour of its introduction and the likelihood is it would have garnered plenty of support from the fanbase. Plus, it is easy engagement to make supporters feel included, while VAR would still have been introduced such was the voting.

VAR is now the present and future, it seems, with a report emerging that a "VAR working group established by Fifa has been looking into whether video assistant referees should have greater responsibilities" which could include free kicks, corners and second yellow cards. 

Don't back down, double down seems to be the stance by some within football.

This is where we are now, continuing to make football worse in pursuit of an impossible nirvana of refereeing perfection. Slowing games down and tempering excitement, joy and celebration like Saturday's winning goal for some extra correct decisions.

Hearts fans - and Scottish football - should be asking if this is what they want the future to look like. If not, it is time to make voices heard.