But yesterday at a sodden MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey, there was certainly no giant-sized helping of skill, flair and invention on offer in a contest that launched the provincial series with a whimper rather than a bang.
On a day when the standard of play complemented the weather - dull, grey and uninspiring - Donegal may well have ended their four-year losing streak in the provincial championship but even their most diehard followers will derive little comfort from this anaemic performance.
Certainly the conditions did little to encourage silken skills but in similar and much worse we have thrilled to riveting ties in the recent past.
Perhaps the thousands who did not turn up - the attendance was little over 5,000 - were privy to information that the rest of us did not possess.
Suffice to say then that the only real consolation is surely that the fare we can anticipate over the next few weeks will be from a higher plateau.
Not only were there two defensive blankets fully operational yesterday but a couple of duvets appeared to have been lobbed into the equation as well such was the overall preoccupation with safety-first tactics.
Indeed, it was almost embarrassing to witness top-class forwards such as Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden labouring needlessly at the coal face in the execution of their defensive duties instead of fulfilling their more recognised roles as key target men.
The result? A tedious, boring encounter devoid of real sparkle and enterprise that was enlivened only by a very occasional quality score from play and Mark McHugh's late, late goal that ultimately enhanced Donegal's winning margin although by that stage Antrim had been reduced to 14 men and were on their knees physically and mentally.
Antrim manager Liam Bradley had suggested in advance of the contest that if his team were to play to the level he knew they could reach then they would win.
But in the event they under-performed to a depressing extent and in the second-half virtually handed their hosts a gold-embossed invitation to attack them at their leisure.
Not for some time indeed has a championship match been so much lacking in intensity and tempo.
It was not until the 21st minute that the first of just five first-half points from play arrived and this stark statistic in itself offers a broad hint of the lack of creativity and finishing power on offer.
As anticipated, Brendan Herron was stationed at midfield for Antrim while Michael McCann went to full-forward and when Kevin Niblock and Paddy Cunningham pointed from frees in the 10th and 23rd minutes they were merely firing the first salvos in what was to prove a damage limitation exercise.
Donegal, on the cusp of self-strangulation at times with as many as 13 players behind the ball despite the fact that they obviously possessed greater thrust going forward, were forced to content themselves with points from McFadden, Ryan Bradley (2), Adrian Hanlon and skipper Murphy before Cunningham and Dermot Molloy traded points just before the break by which stage the home side led by 0-6 to 0-3 and were on course for victory.
Yet for all their shortcomings - far too much lateral passing, clumsy tackling, handling errors and wrong options - Donegal, rigid in their tactics and almost robotic in demeanour up until then, had nonetheless begun to serve notice that they were about to engage a higher gear.
This is precisely what they did in the second-half even if their virtual ownership of the ball was not quite reflected on the scoreboard.
An incessant wave of attacks, many of which were launched by the impressive Rory Kavanagh and Kevin Cassidy, brought points from McFadden, McHugh and Murphy (2) between the 39th and 51st minutes which irrevocably tipped the scales in their team's favour.
In contrast Antrim, despite the wholehearted efforts of skipper Kevin O'Boyle, Justin Crozier and Tony Scullion, mustered just three points in the second period - and two of these came from substitute Mark Dougan and Thomas McCann in the 63rd and 65th minutes.
By then the last rites had already been administered to Antrim's championship ambitions and their woes were compounded when Dougan was red-carded by referee Maurice Deegan after tangling with Karl Lacey.
Donegal, who brought on 17-year-old Patrick McBrearty as a sub even though he had played a full part in the Minor match beforehand, promptly maximised their numerical advantage when McHugh, son of the legendary Martin, swept in from the left, side-stepped two challenges and drilled a low shot past Sean O'Neill to secure a quarter-final clash against Cavan.
Game set and match to Donegal then - and now Antrim must strive for some net gains via the Qualifiers.
Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, K Lacey, F McGlynn, A Thompson, K Cassidy, R Kavanagh, M McElhinney, M McHugh (1-1), D Molloy (0-1), R Bradley (0-2), A Hanlon (0-1), M Murphy (0-3), C McFadden (0-2, 0-1 free). Subs: M Boyle for Thompson (19 mins), M Hegarty for Molloy (52), P McBrearty for Hanlon (52), K Rafferty for McElhinney (57), D McLoughlin for Bradley (65). Yellow cards: McElhinney (8), Murphy (17).
Antrim: S O'Neill; K O'Boyle, R Johnston, C Brady, T Scullion, J Crozier, A Healy, M McCann, A Gallagher, C Murray, T McCann (0-2), M Sweeney, P Cunningham (0-2, 0-1 free), B Herron, K Niblock (0-2, free). Subs: K Brady for M McCann (41 mins), T O'Neill for Sweeney (46), S Burke for Herron (47), M Dougan for Cunningham (57). Yellow cards: Niblock (12 mins), Johnston (42 mins). Red card: Dougan (68 mins).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)
Paul Durcan - 7
The Donegal keeper hadn’t a single shot to save all afternoon and his kick outs nearly always found the intended target. Quiet day in general but he did what he needed to do.
Karl Lacey - 7
Worked hard throughout the game and, in addition to as defending well, he got forward to join the attack at every given opportunity. Plenty of industry and invention.
Neil McGee - 8
Impressed at full back, making an outstanding block to deny Kevin Niblock a goal in the 46th minute. Was in the right place at the right time to steer his side to victory.
Paddy McGrath - 7
Another defender who had a good day at the office for the home side, restricting Paddy Cunningham to a single point. Composed and classy defensive performance.
Frank McGlynn - 7
His direct opponent was taken off without scoring and the right half back got forward on one occasion but shot wide. Can be proud of his own individual contribution to the cause.
Kevin Cassidy - 7
The former All Star had a steady and solid game in the heart of the Donegal defence and got forward to help his attack when the need arose. Plenty of energy and commitment.
Anthony Thompson - 6
Started brightly but then picked up an early injury and had to come off after only 20 minutes. His team-mates, though, rose to the occasion to finish the job.
Rory Kavanagh - 7
Worked hard throughout in the midfield engine room, showing good pace although he kicked a couple of wides. An attacking threat and constant thorn in the side of Antrim.
Martin McElhinney - 7
Helped Donegal win the crucial midfield sector and performed one great block although he was yellow carded. Showed all his battling and fighting qualities.
Mark McHugh - 7
Got going in the second half with a superb point and capped it all off with an expertly taken goal in the final minute of normal time, a goal he deserved for his efforts.
Dermot Molloy - 6
The centre half forward hadn’t one of his better days, getting a couple of wides and finishing with only one point before being taken off. Can play a lot better than this.
Ryan Bradley - 8
Had a very good game, kicking a couple of fine points in the second half after missing some in the opening period. But didn’t let his earlier misses affect him.
Adrian Hanlon - 7
Scored a great point in the first half from the left wing from an acute angle and was crowded out when he had a goal chance. Played a key role in the victory.
Mickey Murphy - 8
Scored three points and was one of Donegal’s better players on the day as he popped up everywhere throughout the field in a real captain’s role. Inspired his troops to victory.
Colm McFadden - 7
He may have only scored two points but got on the ball a lot in the second half and caused problems for the Antrim defence. Influential and dangerous going forward.
Martin Boyle replaced Anthony Thompson (19 mins): Played for most of the game . 6
Michael Hegarty replaced Dermot Molloy (52 mins): His experience helped Donegal over the finishing line. 6
Paddy McBrearty replaced Adrian Hanlon (52 mins): Made his own little piece of history when coming on, having played in the minor game and is one for the future. 6
Kevin Rafferty replaced Martin McElhinny (57 mins): Came into midfield and had little time to impress. 6
Danny McLoughlin replaced Ryan Bradley (65 mins): Entered the fray late on and shot a wide. 6
Sean O’Neill - 7
Looked assured between the posts on his senior championship debut and could do little to stop McHugh’s late goal. Showed few nerves and plenty of composure.
Kevin O’Boyle - 7
The team captain worked hard for his side and can be pleased with his afternoon’s work as he restricted McFadden to just one point from play, a strong performance.
Ricky Johnston - 6
Picked up a yellow card early on and that affected his performance a little, although still performed manfully at full back. Couldn’t show as much aggression as he would have liked.
Colin Brady - 6
Had a steady game in the corner and did particularly well on one occasion to crowd out Hanlon when there was a chance of a goal. Steady, if unspectacular performance.
Tony Scullion - 8
Was Antrim’s best player on the day as he drove them forward on a number of occasions producing a tireless display. Heartbeat of the team, he was a real driving force and inspirational figure.
Justin Crozier - 7
The centre-half back can be happy enough with his display as his direct opponent Molloy was taken off after only scoring one point. Showed he relished the battle.
Anton Healy - 6
Struggled at times to keep up with the movement of McHugh and was caught out of position for the late goal. Will be disappointed with a lack of concentration at times.
Michael McCann - 6
Lined out at full-forward despite wearing number eight but was clearly not fully fit and had to come off early in the second half. Off colour and not as influential as he can be.
Aodhan Gallagher - 6
Battled manfully in the middle of the field winning ample possession, although along with his partner, they played second fiddle to the Donegal duo. Plenty of effort but little impact.
Conor Murray - 6
Hit a poor wide from a good position and didn’t have the best of afternoons, failing to score. No cutting edge and not the menacing attacking force we know he can be.
Thomas McCann - 7
Hit a couple of fine points in the final quarter, although by that stage the issue was beyond any doubt. Still, he battled to the end and went down showing tremendous fighting spirit.
Mark Sweeney - 6
Failed to make any impact against his direct opponent, McGlynn and was taken off midway through the second half without scoring. Will be disappointed with his contribution.
Paddy Cunningham - 6
Hit a couple of points but also registered three wides on a quiet afternoon for the Lamh Dhearg sharp shooter and was eventually replaced. Shooting boots left at home.
Brendan Herron - 6
Had number 23 on his back, but lined out in midfield were he tried hard before being replaced in the second half. Plenty of sweat but couldn’t beat back the Donegal tide.
Kevin Niblock - 6
Converted a superb free at the start of the game, but after that he struggled at times and was denied a goal by McGee’s superb block. A frustrating afternoon.
Kevin Brady replaced Michael McCann (41 mins): Came on in the third quarter, but made little impact. 6
Terry O’Neill replaced Mark Sweeney (46 mins): Hit a couple of wides. 6
Sean Burke replaced Brendan Herron (47 mins): Came on midway through the second half, but had little influence. 6
Mark Dougan replaced Paddy Cunningham (57 mins): Scored a fine point, but then blotted his copybook when getting a straight red card late on. 5