In which our plucky heroes return home to defend their honour and find some sort of cohesive shape at BT Murrayfield, only to find that all the big names have reappeared and nicked their spots.
Greig Laidlaw is back to captain the side and may perhaps have some way to go to impress more than Henry Pyrgos has done in recent weeks.
The back row is a bit of a shootout even at this stage so Barclay and Wilson especially will be looking for a chance to lay down markers while the absence of Richie Gray may give Jonny a chance to pair up with Grant Gilchrist and perhaps Rob Harley to feature there off the bench.
With the release of several players back to their clubs, most of the team is starting to come into focus, but the back three and the centres are still too dependent on both injury, form, and the whims of the selectors to call.
I’m sure Vern Cotter isn’t the only one hoping that Saturday’s match throws up a bit more clarity in that regard.
Scotland squad (Sponsor BT) to play Italy at BT Murrayfield this Saturday (29 August, kick-off 3.15pm) – live on BT Sport.
FORWARDS: John Barclay (Scarlets), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan (London Irish), David Denton, Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford, Grant Gilchrist (all Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray, Robert Harley (both Glasgow Warriors), Stuart McInally, Willem Nel (both Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Wilson, Gordon Reid (both Glasgow Warriors), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons).
BACKS: Mark Bennett, Stuart Hogg, Peter Horne (all Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw CAPTAIN (Gloucester), Sean Lamont, Finn Russell, Henry Pyrgos, Tommy Seymour (all Glasgow Warriors), Greig Tonks (Edinburgh Rugby), Matt Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), Tim Visser (Harlequins).
The final team will be posted here when it is announced on Thursday, but for now here’s a possible (perhaps not probable) XV: Hogg, Seymour, Bennett, Scott, Visser, Russell, Laidlaw; Dickinson, Ford, Nel, Gilchrist, Gray, Wilson, Barclay, Denton Bench might look something like: Reid, Brown, Welsh, Harley, Cowan, Pyrgos, Lamont, etc If it were a serious team restricted to that squad I’d start Pyrgos and Cowan but given Wilson and Laidlaw both need game time, understandable.
UPDATE: Here’s the final team selection, we were not a million miles away apart from Jackson who wasn’t in the original squad. Definitely has more of a feel of the final team getting a first run out, with some refinement to come in Paris. It instantly makes the bench look a lot stronger too:
Scotland XV: Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont, Mark Bennett, Peter Horne, Tim Visser, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw; Al Dickinson, Ross Ford, WP Nel, Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist, Ryan Wilson, John Barclay, David Denton.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Gordon Reid, Jon Welsh, Rob Harley, Blair Cowan, Henry Pyrgos, Ruaridh Jackson, Matt Scott