Dean Ryan has warned his Scotland forwards that they will be given a single opportunity to prove they can right the wrongs which brought about last week's 20-point defeat at Twickenham.

Generally, public messages from management are coded in the modern game, but Scotland's interim forwards coach is renowned for his plain speaking and could hardly have been more blunt yesterday.

"Players have to respond now," he said, ahead of today's Murrayfield meeting with Italy. This is the national team, you're representing your country, you're at home and given that we had our arse kicked last week and it's been the topic of conversation all week I'll be desperately disappointed if I don't get the response on Saturday. I'm not saying that's going to be the all-singing solution, but I want a response because then I know what I'm dealing with.

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"If I don't get a response we're dealing with a different thing and will have to look at slightly different things."

Ryan was marginally more diplomatic as he stopped just short of directly criticising Scotland's previous coaching team headed by fellow Englishman Andy Robinson.

However, it did not seem to hard to decipher an opinion that the Scots have deluded themselves in recent years regarding the quality of their efforts and need to get back to basics.

"The simple things of the game come first and then tactically the adaptation of what you want to do come secondary. Have Scotland taken that approach in the past? From an analytical point of view, I don't think they have," said the former international lock who has taken a sabbatical from working as a television analyst to help Scott Johnson, Scotland's caretaker head coach, through this campaign.

"They have tried to maximise their areas of strength and tried to avoid their areas of weakness, which is what everybody does, but we've come so far away from it [the fundamentals] that it's becoming an issue. We now need to go back and engage with it. Both Johnno and myself are giving the same message. Stop fooling ourselves that there's a tactical five-man lineout or back line play that's going to win us Test matches. It's not. What's going to win us Test matches is engaging with the gain-line battle."

Fewer than 50,000 of the 67,500 available tickets had been sold yesterday.