The difference between a credible performance and an indifferent one is at times wafer-thin.
Players who have been exceptional over a career, can be atrocious on a particular day.
This week in the C&G trophy, that almost intangible partition which gives professional cricketers a sense of superiority over their amateur counterparts will be tested and some will experience a sharp reminder of the frailty of their position.
The ignominy of defeat by a non first-class county stays with a team for a long time and there will be some nervous first-class cricketers this week.
"Everything to lose and nothing to gain" will be a common sentiment as professional cricketers try to cram into small clubhouse changing rooms and dodge the icecream vans during warm-up.
The various minor counties have long had a reputation for turning out ex-professionals, ageing club stalwarts and the odd youngster (who bats at nine and doesn't bowl).
It has been seen as the runt of the cricket hierarchy, a very poor relation of a lean, efficient and highly proficient structure which serves up countless first-class cricketers and international players.
Academies, county youth teams and England development squads are the prime routes towards future greatness. It is, therefore, not surprising that the minor counties have fallen foul of the desire to increase the amount of 50-over cricket played by professionals, and will not participate in the competition from next year. They will also have their funding reduced so that the England & Wales Cricket Board can increase its reserves.
However, the reality of cricket in the minor counties is quite distinct from the rather unflattering stereotype. Games are played over three days, a move motivated by the desire to provide a good grounding for the younger players to improve and learn the skills needed in the longer version of the game.
Participants play purely for the thrill of the challenge which is often allied to a fierce loyalty to their local county.
There has also been a trend towards a much younger group of players - Devon's average age last year for example was 24. There are still ex-pros, but their role is paralleled by that of the overseas player in first class cricket - a good one can catalyse the games of those around them and raise the overall standard of competition.
A minor county received £20,000 from the ECB this year compared to the £1.35 million given to each firstclass county.
Obviously there is always going to be a disparity between the two, but given the success of the minor counties in producing first-class cricketers, they can rightly be seen as a very cheap production line and one which is worth preserving.
There is also the vital role they play in offering a second chance to those young cricketers rejected by their firstclass county.
This is a crucial function of the minor counties as young cricketers develop at different rates, and an unexceptional 12-year-old can become an excellent cricketer at 18.
No doubt there will be surprises this week, that delicate balance between amateur and professional briefly upset. The minor counties bring much to the first-class game, not just an unexpected result, that should not be overlooked.
Given the ECB's desire to integrate cricket from the grassroots to the test arena, the minor counties should be encouraged in their endeavours funded accordingly.