A certain politician invoked the fury of her electorate and the ridicule of her opposition recently in suggesting that we Scots are not blessed with the hereditary guile to govern our country with aptitude.
She might just as easily have been referring to the national rugby team, such is their historical penchant for mental fragility when the chips are down, imprecision and indecision often proving rife.
Yet in Glasgow Warriors, Scotland boasts one of Europe’s form sides, a squad that consistently seizes the opportunities – or perhaps that should read ‘oppurchancities’ – its play merits and creates when it really matters. It is a most un-Scottish trait in the professional era.
Saturday’s 37-10 battering of Bath – themselves in a rich vein of form and widely touted as Aviva Premiership contenders – was arguably as complete a performance Gregor Townsend’s charges have delivered since he took over at Scotstoun two years ago.
On top from the outset, and a step ahead in almost every conceivable aspect of play, they scored five tries – several of them real hum-dingers – while their opponents’ side of the scoreboard remained stubbornly locked on ten points since Jonathan Joseph’s freakish 11th minute touchdown.
Following on from a fairly credible if unremarkable marathon summer Test tour, the Warriors’ form makes Scotland’s autumn prospects, and Vern Cotter’s squad announcement on Monday all the more intriguing.
Two positions should sit atop his list of priorities ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Firstly, as I wrote back in June, the hard-nosed Kiwi must pinpoint the solution to the perennial fly-half problem that has vexed the nation for much of the past decade.
Tom Heathcote has made a sound start to his Edinburgh career; so too Duncan Weir has performed admirably for Glasgow without setting the heather alight. Finn Russell may be the long-term answer, but will enter the series against Argentina, New Zealand and Tonga short on game-time and match fitness.
Item number two, the openside flank. Contenders for the number seven jersey abound.
The jury remains out on the energetic Blair Cowan, though most supporters of London Irish would argue vociferously for his inclusion. John Barclay was omitted throughout last season, and enjoyed such an excellent – if disrupted – campaign with the Scarlets that it left many wondering why.
Chris Fusaro has exerted himself in typically tigerish fashion, and Hamish Watson remains Edinburgh’s stand-out after seven games – an admittedly unexceptional feat in itself, but the diminutive tyro will have caught Cotter’s eye.
Ross Rennie is the most talented of the lot, but faces an uphill struggle to force his way into the reckoning from the Championship. Cowan looks the early favourite, but whomever Cotter should plump for, one hopes fervently that the days of Kelly Brown loping around on the openside are over.
Elsewhere, the omens are good. Injuries to key players are few and far between – Matt Scott and Dave Denton are among the most noteworthy absentees – and the vibe is, justifiably, one of cautious optimism.
In midfield, while a quadriceps problem curtailed Alex Dunbar’s excellent start to the season, and Scott misses the November action, in Peter Horne and Duncan Taylor, Scotland have a pair of competent and contrasting inside centres; at 13, Mark Bennett’s brace lit up Scotstoun on Saturday.
Tommy Seymour – unfortunate injury notwithstanding – is the form back at Cotter’s disposal out wide. Stuart Hogg is back to something like his best, Sean Maitland and Tim Visser are fit and scoring again, and the promising Dougie Fife has recovered from a long-standing ankle problem.
The pack remains strong, with both Gray brothers and Euan Murray racking up the minutes and Gordon Reid’s scrummaging growing more in-line with his boisterous work in the loose.
The optimism is just after Glasgow’s triumph and Edinburgh’s hard-fought win over Bordeaux-Bègles on Friday. The pragmatist urges restraint – this is Scotland, after all. The squad tends to possess a useful pack and a more-than-decent set of outside backs, but for the first time in a while, the Scots appear to have a cohesive, incisive midfield capable of getting the ball to them.