Coronal loops form the basic building blocks of the magnetically closed solar corona yet much is still to be determined concerning their possible fine-scale structuring and the rate of heat deposition within them. Using an improved multi-stranded loop model to better approximate the numerically challenging transition region, this article examines synthetic NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory’s (SDO) Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) emission simulated in response to a series of prescribed spatially and temporally random, impulsive and localised heating events across numerous sub-loop elements with a strong weighting towards the base of the structure: the nanoflare heating scenario. The total number of strands and nanoflare repetition times is varied systematically in such a way that the total energy content remains approximately constant across all the cases analysed. Repeated time-lag detection during an emission time series provides a good approximation for the nanoflare repetition time for low-frequency heating. Furthermore, using a combination of AIA 171/193 and 193/211 channel ratios in combination with spectroscopic determination of the standard deviation of the loop-apex temperature over several hours alongside simulations from the outlined multi-stranded loop model, it is demonstrated that both the imposed heating rate and number of strands can be realised.