The Dorking lad has used enough of his native wit to see himself gainfully employed in a Scotland squad, but he still pines for a central role while being destined to play wide for both Queens Park Rangers and his national side.
He prepares for the double header against Serbia and Macedonia knowing that any participation will not be in the central striking role the 26-year-old craves.
If the QPR player is of the philosophical bent, he may reflect that his likely deployment as a wide midfield man in a 4-1-4-1 or 4-3-3 formation will be less fraught than his debut for Scotland. Mackie was one of the more conspicuous figures in the infamous 4-6-0 formation employed by Craig Levein in the 1-0 defeat by the Czech Republic in Prague in September 2010.
Mackie is quietly assertive about his belief that he can play as a main striker, stating he has had discussions with Mark Hughes, his club manager, and Levein about the matter.
"I'm having this constant battle," he said, though he seemed far from belligerent about the matter.
"I know the competition here – as it is at my club – is very competitive, but I feel that's my best position. However, playing in a three, I've done it a lot and really enjoy it so I haven't really got a problem with that. I feel my strongest position is down the middle, but to play for Scotland I'll play anywhere."
The problem for Mackie is that he is behind Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse in the queue at his club and Jordan Rhodes has stepped in front of him for the right to replace Kenny Miller, the incumbent who will almost certainly start against the Serbs.
"It's a good time for Scotland but it is a chance to stake a claim to be playing up there as well,'' said Mackie, explaining his chats with the manager. "I have had a discussion with Craig Levein about playing down the middle in the past and I've had the chance to play there for Scotland. But the last couple of times I've played in a three and enjoyed that as well. I'm sure this week we'll have a discussion and see where I fit in and where he feels I'm best for him."
This is almost certain to end with the instruction to Mackie to head towards a touchline.
The player has improved greatly since his introduction against the Czechs and has scored two goals in five matches for the international side. His strong running and willingness make him an attractive choice for the wide role that makes such physical demands on players.
However, he has the technique to trouble defenders, including the goalkeeper. His goal against Cyprus in November was spectacular.
Mackie, too, believes he has made progress in his career to such an extent that he is relaxed about pitting his abilities against such as the Serbs, Croats and Belgians in the World Cup qualifying campaign.
"I won't be fazed by playing against these guys," he said with particular reference to a Belgian squad that includes such as Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini, Thomas Vermaelen, Mousa Dembele, Eden Hazard and a host of others who are starring in the Barclays Premier League.
"A lot of the Scotland lads are playing against these players week in week out so that's not going to be a problem," he added. "That's not going to be a problem for this squad – it's how we acquit ourselves against them on the day.
"On a personal note, playing and doing well last year in the Premier League has given me a lot of confidence. Coming into the international arena is obviously very similar in terms of quality. I'm playing against those kind of players every week so I feel I can do well."
Mackie hit the net against Manchester City last season and said: "I can't promise I'll score against Vincent Kompany again, but I will do my best." He added of the Serb contingent plying their trade in England's top division: ''I've also played against [Branislav] Ivanovic and [Aleksandar] Kolorov. They've also got a lot of good players with international experience, so it's going to be a tough game."
However, Mackie approaches it with some optimism as he believes he will be surrounded by top quality players in the training sessions this week.
"There is a similarity between Scotland and Belgium," he said. "When I get the squad list through, you see the players listed and the clubs they're playing for. We've got some really good players here who do well every week in their respective leagues.
"I think it's a very exciting time. It's just a question of getting together and taking everyone's club form into the international arena.
"There's a lot of reasons to be confident. If you look through it individually on paper we have got lads who have adapted to playing in the Premier League which, for me, is the best and most competitive one in the world. The lads shouldn't have a problem taking that into international games as I don't think that quality they'll face is any better."
Asked if this could finally be Scotland's moment after a failure to qualify for major tournaments that stretches back to 1998, he replied: "I think so, if you look around now there is a lot of quality round the team. There are some very good individual players and there is a lot of belief now. We did really well in the Australia friendly last month and I feel this could be a time for a lot of the players to shine in this qualifying campaign."
He admitted to frustration while watching the European Championships this summer.
"I would have much preferred to have been out there rather than sitting at home with the missus," he said.
It was an answer delivered with the grin of a wide boy but with the unerring accuracy of a born striker.
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