The most senior member of the Scotland squad yesterday pleaded with his countrymen not to write them off after yet another opening-day setback.

Seven years have now elapsed since Sean Lamont's two tries led Scotland to their only opening-day victory in the history of the competition since it became a six team event.

Since that was also the last time they won more than one match in a championship campaign, the 38-18 defeat at Twickenham returned last season's "whitewash" victims to an all too familiar position at the foot of the table.

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Yet the 32-year-old, who won his 72nd cap at the weekend, was aghast at the way the team are being disregarded. "How can people make predictions or write us off after just one game?" he asked. "We have three home games coming up. We can still win four games. The grand slam is not on the cards but the championship is still on. Remember we scored two great tries and Hoggy was on fire and we showed great enterprise against England. There are things we have to improve on but we know that. Our defence was too soft. That let us down."

He acknowledged that Italy's win over a French side that had been hugely impressive in the autumn was an outstanding one but reckoned they would be a different proposition at Murrayfield.

"Italy in Rome is a very different animal to Italy on the road in Edinburgh," Lamont asserted. "They feed off the passion of their home crowd and they don't have that away from home. As long as we put in big hits, chop the Italians down on the backline or behind, we can win. We put the England stuff to bed and are now focused on Italy who will be flying high as that was a huge win for them. They are a good team who have come on so much."

Lamont did accept that Scotland's backs are against the wall given their recent record as well as their longer-term championship failings.

"Any game we play now we can't afford to lose as we have had four defeats on the bounce and that is not good enough. We need the wins, not just for the good of Scottish rugby or the fans. We need them for the players themselves. We lay our bodies on the line and take it hard mentally. The boys know they had a tough game against England. Emotionally, for myself, I have been doing it a long time but defeat still hurts as much as ever in a Scotland jersey.

"It is not easy losing. It is a horrible feeling. Rugby is not easy when you are not winning."