When Gordon Strachan was asked if he would fancy taking on the English at Hampden he replied: "Yeah . . . on Saturday."
No-one is quite ready for that and the Scotland manager was joking, but what happened in London amounted to a defibrillator being applied to the oldest fixture in international football.
England won 3-2 in the highest-scoring game between them since 1975. James Morrison and Kenny Miller's goals meant Scotland scored twice against the Auld Enemy for the first time home-or-away since 1977. We all know what happened that year, and over the following decade broken crossbars became broken bodies and the fixture became untenable.
Crucially for the prospects of its revival as a regular, manageable release valve for old sporting rivalry there were no disturbances at Wembley or in London as a whole. There were even half-and-half Scotland/England scarves on sale, for heaven's sake.
Emotions bubble away between Scotland and England but it feels pretty harmless and ritualistic these days. Organised hooliganism strangled the game in the 1980s but that is no longer an issue. The only other impediment to it again becoming a regular feature in the diary is whether or not England can be bothered with us. In that sense Wednesday night was an attractive advertisement. It is inconceivable that the countries will go several years before meeting again.
The attendance was 80,000 - including around 20,000 Scots - and the Football Association is well aware of the commercial potential of exploiting a unique fixture. Nostalgia hung heavily over Wembley, through the match programme, the advertising, and on the footage shown on the big screens in the build-up. By the time it was all over it felt like an occasion which could still have a future as well as an incomparable past. Meeting every one or even two years might be a little too often, but why not every three or four?
England won this time and their play was slicker and always more dangerous, as was to be expected from a side which boasted superior individuals in every position. But Scotland were well-organised and positive, they played with verve and plenty of belief.
Going ahead twice delivered a couple of bloody noses for Roy Hogdson's team and held the crowd's interest. Strachan's belief that Scotland had essentially let slip an excellent chance to beat England was an understandable interpretation from a manager who was surprised to find himself so consumed by the outcome of a friendly, and who had anticipated victory when Miller made the score 2-1. But that was a generous interpretation.
Even if the goal sent a warm tingle up the spine of every watching Scot there had still to be recognition that it was against the run of play, and the longer the game wore on the more England deserved their second equaliser and then their winner. A fog of substitutions, eventually a dozen in total, blurred the second half and Strachan argued that it invalidated the final 20 minutes, which became an English bombardment.
Even so, Scotland's defending eventually unravelled. For the first half, clever, suffocating tactics had contained Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott but when Grant Hanley was off injured Walcott instantly exploited the additional space before Strachan could get the message to Scott Brown to temporarily fill in at left-back and let Steven Whittaker move to centre-half.
Criticism for losing a goal from a set-piece is inevitable although Steven Gerrard's delivery on to Danny Welbeck's head was exquisite for England's second. Charlie Mulgrew had been told to pick up Rickie Lambert at corners but his concentration deserted him and Lambert scored the winner. Laments over the concession of soft goals have routinely accompanied Scotland performances for years, but for the moment there is no case for any central defenders to be preferred to Hanley and Russell Martin.
James Morrison's opening goal owed something to Joe Hart's inelegant failure to cope, but it was welcome because Scotland score too few goals from midfield and the West Brom man got his reward for having a pop. That must continue, from him and others.
More interesting was Miller's goal. There is not a more enigmatic, or criticised, player in the squad than Miller but he has a confounding habit of showing a pulse every time his international career seems to have petered out. There were groans when the support discovered he would start ahead of Leigh Griffiths or Jordan Rhodes. Miller was often an isolated, frustrated and a frustrating presence in the game, yet his goal was magnificent.
If Scotland-England has a future, so too does Miller as far as Strachan is concerned. Miller has shown commendable commitment to his country with an unquestioning willingness to be recruited, even when that meant transatlantic flights for friendlies. He will have a conversation with Strachan to be reassured that he is still in the plans, but it would be a surprise if he was to retire just when the manager is stressing his ongoing value.
"He has looked after himself incredibly well," said Strachan. "Strength and pace doesn't just stay with you; if you have a talent you work at it. Too many young players these days think they have the talent that will take them through to the end of their career. He has shown incredible professionalism, he has decent pace, he's brave in the air, he's willing to take a knock. The number of times he gets clattered on the head or knocked down . . .
"I used to say that to the smaller players at Celtic, like Aiden McGeady and Shaun Maloney: 'if you're getting kicked you're doing the right things'. Kenny's getting bumped and bruised. Some players don't get kicks or knocks because they are not brave enough to go and do that."
Strachan has always found it simple to dismiss criticism of Miller from supporters or the media. "I don't think we've heard any real person of standing saying anything about Kenny. A lot of managers have signed him, and I'm one of them."
Could he really still have a future for Scotland, though? He will be 34 by the time the Euro 2016 qualifiers start and 35 by the end of them. "Yes. People keep telling me to put youngsters in, but they need to be better - if they're not very good, they're not very good. Look at Frank Lampard out there the other night: terrific."
Finding an adjective for Scotland's own performance has been difficult. They were second best and the defending became ragged, but their discipline was good and they played with shape and purpose. Their pass completion rate of almost 79% was higher than usual. After beating Croatia and taking England the distance there is momentum, albeit tentative. Bleary-eyed members of the Tartan Army received a text around 9am yesterday reminding them that tickets are now on general sale for the game at home to Belgium on September 6. Most will be there again. Belgium are another strong opponent, but fans are daring to hope Scotland have turned a corner.