Scotland must now dust themselves down and try achieve something few believe possible: get a result against England.
The 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic at Hampden Park yesterday opened their Euro 2020 campaign on an underwhelming, flat note.
Patrik Schick’s double silenced a raucous home crowd, buoyed both by a return to the national stadium for the first time in 18 months, but also that of a first tournament game in 23 years.
But now, with the most winnable-looking of their group games consigned to the record books, avoiding defeat at Wembley is a must if Scotland have aspirations to be more than a footnote in the competition.
“It’s a disappointing result for us and it’s a quick turnaround. But that’s tournament football,” said defender Grant Hanley.
“There are three games in the group stage and we know what we’ve got to do to react. The points and the goal remain the same.
“We’re playing England at Wembley in the Euros. So what more motivation do you need? It’s definitely a game we’re looking forward to.
“It’s the old cliché – you’ve got to play the game, not the occasion. We’ll be prepared and we’ll be positive. That’s the way we’ll go into it.”
While getting a result against Croatia in the final game can also not be discounted, given their below-par showing against England, the Czech Republic loss feels like a big opportunity missed.
Scotland huffed and puffed, denied on occasion by Tomas Vaclik’s brilliance and their own shortcomings, but were unable to deliver the result the home support deserved.
The injury to Kieran Tierney – who is expected to be fit for the England game – also had a knock-on effect on Scotland’s preparations.
“Obviously when you’ve got one of your best players injured, it’s never ideal. Especially at this level of football. But I think you can’t look too much into that. You’ve got to do your job, lads have to be professional,” Hanley said.
“We know we’ve got strength in-depth in the squad, so I don’t think that’s something we have to look at. We have to concentrate on the lads who were on the pitch.”
Scotland’s failure to take their chances ultimately undermined their hopes of getting a result, but Hanley, the Norwich City defender, remains upbeat.
“Of course we need to be more clinical,” he added. “It doesn’t matter who the next game is, if you create that many chances and don’t take them, you’re going to struggle to win football matches.
“So there are things to improve on. But (there are) massive positives to take. We’ll keep moving forward, believing we’ve got the ability to create something special.”