The making of a man or the mauling of him? In a match in which the Melbourne Renegades fielded five debutants and the Heat four, when is the right time to throw young stars into the gladiatorial world of elite sport? And if they do take the plunge, how detrimental is it when things go wrong?
It's a fine line to tread in a world dictated by fast moving consumerism and elite sport is no exception. At times a vicious treadmill that will toss yesterday's nearly-men onto the rubbish pile, at others a fast track into sporting fame.
On the back of a night-marish debut by the Renegades' 20-year-old Guy Walker – on paper at least – you may be forgiven for questioning the wisdom of such a rapid introduction into the KFC Big Bash League. 0-47 off three overs certainly aren't figures to write home about, and when you've got four sixes to your name – as a bowler, not a batsman – it's fair to assume Walker may be wondering how it is that he's rubbing shoulders with the great and good of T20 world cricket.
Walker, however, assures us he's not.
"It's probably my first experience in front of 30,000," said Walker post-match.
"So it was really good. Mainly for me it was about playing among some seriously good players on my team, and in the other team as well. I'll take that, and the experience of playing in front of a big crowd, and hopefully go well next time."
Unwavering confidence, even when you've just registered the most runs conceded by anyone on debut in the history of the BBL (not quite the most conceded on T20A debut though, that honour goes to Nathan Bracken, with 57 against him).
Saturday night's match between the Melbourne Renegades was a testing one for the game's fresher faces.
Not only did Walker endure a painful introduction, but Brisbane Heat debutant Andrwe Fekete had the daunting task of bowling his opening over to T20 run-machine Chris Gayle.
Two sixes in three balls came in Fekete's first over, and figures of 0-20 off his first two were only marginally better than Walker's.
Too much too soon, or just a different class accidentally sharing the same stage?
To dismiss Fekete and Walker would be to forget the true course of the match.
Walker may now boast an unfortunate stat, but it's easy to forget that the fifth ball of his BBL career should have brought the scalp of Lendl Simmons.
That it didn't was the fault of another youngster , Chris Tremain, whose drop at deep square leg cost Walker the wicket, and four runs with it.
Debating the merits of young athletes thrust into a level outside their comfort zone raises a timely reminder of the ill-fated Cricket Australia XI which featured in this year's Matador Cup.
Described simply as "competitive", the outfit didn't contain a single player over the age of 23. And therein lies the difference.
In Saturday's match, despite the galling figures, Walker at least wasn't alone.
Quick Single: Renegades prove too strong for Heat
Unlike Alex Gregory, the 20-year-old captain of the CA XI, Walker had the experience of the likes of Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch and Cameron White to turn to.
"It's unbelievable," admitted Walker.
"Having Gayle, Wadey, Whitey, Finchy – having them all there, they've been unbelievable to me, just coming over to me and talking me through the game. It's been really good so far and I'm going to try and lap up as much as I can from them over the Big Bash period."
It was a poignant moment that highlighted the importance of this too, when, after being hit for two sixes, Gayle approached the young bowler to offer some words of advice.
"He obviously knew Lendl," said Walker.
"So he was just talking about what ball I should bowl to him, and I did that and it was successful. Just having him there just sort of calmed me down and going through which ball to bowl was really good."
Sometimes it's inevitable that players who aren't quite ready or at the requisite level are thrust onto the centre stage.
Both Peter Siddle and James Pattinson were unavailable due to national duties.
At other times it's injury that necessitates a premature introduction.
There's no such thing as a perfect time.
Also true is that the support structures and conditions that surround such circumstances can, and should, be tailored to ensure a transition as smooth as possible.
A team without tried and tested experience squaring up to an in-form Mitchell Starc is no such place. A young man with Chris Gayle in his ear perhaps more so.
To have older, wiser figures to turn to, and to shoulder responsibility, is critical, and precisely what Aaron Finch, Walker's captain provided.
"I probably made a bad move there," admitted Finch.
"Bowling him from this bottom end to the short boundary to such a dangerous guy – there was a couple of things with my captaincy which were probably pretty poor.
"But at the same time I think he'll learn a lot from that, when you're bowling against an experienced batter, like Chris [Lynn] and Nathan Reardon, I think you take a lot from that. He's a huge talent, so a lot to work with there."
It's a baptism by fire, but one that both Finch and Walker are confident the young bowler can only learn from.
The key appears to be the support structures in place, and a subtle balance of fresh blood and experience.
On Saturday night, the Renegades had both, winning convincingly, but showing that they have confidence in the next wave coming through too.
Figures to forget, but a night to remember, and Walker is determined not to become another nearly-man.
When you've got Finch and Gayle backing you, who's to doubt him?