“No Scotland, no party”, chants the Tartan Army and that seems fair enough.
It’s also true that watching Scotland can involve a stinking hangover and it’s not always down to the alcohol.
Generations of supporters have had their expectations lifted and dropped from a great height.
Tartan Army foot soldiers still bear the scars from Argentina ’78, Wembley ’96 etc etc.
But if the hope had killed them over the years, hope itself never died. You saw it in 3,000 faces at the Euro 2020 fanzone in Glasgow Green.
This Scotland team of 2021 is much improved on recent years and its personnel performing at the top end of England’s Premier League give it a stamp of quality.
And yet, it is a work in progress and that showed against a Croatia side that may have lost some of the magic that got it to the last World Cup final but retains a class that was too much for their Hampden hosts.
Sure, it was unfortunate that Billy Gilmour was out with COVID. The Chelsea midfielder is someone to whom you would hand your new-born child, on either foot.
He shows the tender love for a football like Scottish legends of old and, in time, the national team will be built around him.
His absence wasn’t the reason Scotland lost. Maybe his inclusion will provide some of the answer to tournament failure in future – time will tell.
He is a positive to cling to and he’s by no means the only one.
Coach Steve Clarke has made Scotland better and shows every sign of making them better still.
Maybe next time.