The Tartan Army’s DNA is an interesting mix. Bravado bursts from whisky-barrel chests, even though their battle-scarred heads harbour a disarmingly unvarnished opinion of the generally low quality of their team.
It is perhaps this historic ability – to enjoy following Scotland despite the football – that led to the enticing build-up to this game focusing far more on the occasion than it did the actual game. For in their honest estimation, most Scots fans will have suspected that an early England strike could lead to a deluge.
And in a way, so it proved. But the strike, from the head of a criminally unmarked John Stones, was off the post, and the deluge merely raindrops, tumbling down from the reverberating crossbar like an unfurling curtain.
The shock to the goal frame was substantial, but nothing compared to that running through the Scotland rearguard at seeing their best-laid plans almost come to immediate grief for the want of set-piece discipline. They resolved to bring down the shutters over their goal for real.
What followed was an extraordinary performance of guile and resourcefulness. Wherever Scotland’s campaign goes from here, it has provided a memorable evening and proof that – after 23 years away – they do not look out of place on the big stage.
The calculus of the group results meant that, almost regardless of the score here, Scotland’s chances would stand or fall on whether they beat Croatia, but gathering a stunning point at Wembley virtually guarantees that three more on Tuesday will do it.
The other side of the coin, of course, is that so much has been poured into this game one must wonder what will be left for the decider. To obsess on such a question, though, would be Scottish to a fault. Let’s just say: what an effort, lads.