The defeats are both financial and psychological. The hit in the pocket comes primarily from the absence of £6.5m which would have poured into the Scottish Football Association's bank account from Uefa simply for being one of the 16 participating nations in Poland and Ukraine. The mental setback? "It just feels like everyone gets invited to the party except us," said sports psychologist Tom Lucas.
A generation of Scots were raised to the percussive rhythm of reaching World Cups. Serial failures to reach the European Championships could be tolerated back then because Scotland kept making it to the biggest tournament of all in 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1998. It was an oddity that so many World Cup qualification campaigns ended successfully while the attempts to reach its wee brother, the European Championships, were pitiful. Scotland have entered that 12 times and only made it to two, Euro 92 and Euro 96.
The cumulative failure to reach any of the last seven world or European finals has cost the SFA tens of millions of pounds. The precise loss of earnings is incalculable, because who knows how strong a bargaining position the governing body would have been in if sponsors and commercial partners could be promised the vast exposure which comes with regular qualification for tournaments?
Take Euro 2012. Each of the countries there will receive a straight £6.5m from Uefa. Then there is £405,000 for every draw and £810,000 for every win. The team which finishes third in its group receives a further £810,000 payment. For the record, and with due acknowledgement that this need not really concern us: there is £1.6m for reaching the quarter-finals, another £2.4m for the semi-finalists, £3.6m for losing the final and £6m for the winners. An estimate of Scotland managing one draw or a win from three group games would mean the tournament being worth £6.9m or £7.3m respectively to the SFA.
The SFA and national team have a number of key sponsors including adidas, Vauxhall, Carling, Mars and McDonalds. Some of those contracts include clauses for bonus payments if the team qualifies for something, because naturally the sponsor would then enjoy far greater exposure.
"There will be losses and disadvantages for us from not being at these games," Stewart Regan, the SFA chief executive, told Herald Sport yesterday. "The teams that qualified for Euro 2012 will earn a windfall equivalent to 25% of our annual turnover just for qualifying. If they get further in the competition that money will rise. And if you get to the Fifa World Cup you've got even bigger numbers. So they are sizeable amounts of money.
"We don't employ players, they are employed by the clubs, so the way we operate is that the players are entitled to bonuses if we qualify. But even after the payment of bonuses the returns to the association are substantial. While it's not just a footballing issue – it's about pride and national achievement – nevertheless the money is very useful, particularly for the development of the game in the longer term. It's like ploughing your returns in for longer-term success."
That's where the losses from continual failure are again incalculable. How many more children, and even adults, would be out playing recreational football this month if they were being fed wall-to-wall media coverage of Scotland at the Euros? The SFA has made some inroads when it comes to increasing participation levels but nothing, at least over the short-term, appeals to children as much as watching their team at a major event.
Regan witnessed such an impact when he was chief executive at Yorkshire Cricket Club. "I remember the Ashes in 2005, and the uptake of cricket after England won was unbelievable," he said. "There were the greatest participation levels for cricket in England for years. It's the same with tennis when you see kids playing in the park when Wimbledon is on telly. Success breeds interest. It's great for the country to have a successful national team, that's how role models are made. Without a successful team you tend not to be able to develop your national role models the way you would like."
Scotland have a vastly improved chance of making it to the next European Championships, if only because of tournament restructuring rather than their own inevitable improvement. There were only 14 qualifying places available for Euro 2012 but there will be 23 when the tournament expands and is hosted by France in 2016. Rankings change dramatically from one season to the next but under the current FIFA positions Scotland are 24th among all the European nations. On that basis, even making it to the 24-team finals will be touch-and-go.
In the meantime, many around the country will watch Euro 2012's second match this evening and feel that the Czech Republic are playing Russia at Scotland's expense. When Scotland played without a striker in Prague, and lost 1-0, and then when a controversial penalty was given to hand the Czechs a late Hampden equaliser, did they really show themselves to be much better than Craig Levein's team?
Still, they did enough, and it will be Czech fans in the bars and squares of Wroclaw tonight, not the Tartan Army. "We'll watch the Irish and English fans hopefully having a great time at this tournament but, again, we're not there," said Lucas. "And I think we're getting to stage where people are thinking 'ach, wait a minute, this is just not good enough'."
It's the slow, demoralising erosion of national morale which worries Lucas, more than the lost money. "When you miss tournament after tournament it has a cumulative effect because you begin to feel 'we'll never get there'. That's the danger. It's like you're always the bridesmaid but never the bride. Eventually expectations become even lower. Our expectation levels are now so poor that there's the danger that people will begin to just switch off. We will look at this party going on for the next two or three weeks and some of us will think 'we gave football to the world but we're not there'. It's a tragedy. We know we're never going to win it, but just to be a part of things.
"If we ever get back to a tournament the support we would take would be phenomenal. We like to be part of the colour and gaiety of things. But here we are again, on the outside."