Almost four decades on and Billy Stark's under-21 side are on the cusp of doing something similar. Six games into their qualifying campaign for next summer's European Championships and the young Scots have yet to experience defeat, even beating the Netherlands away from home. It still might not be enough.
The victory in Nijmegen last November is one of only two recorded by Stark's side to date and they find themselves six points behind the Dutch as the group approaches its conclusion. The young Scots take on Luxembourg in Paisley this evening, then conclude their campaign away to Austria on Monday. They could win both matches and go through qualifying without a defeat to their name and still not reach the play-offs, in what would be a truly Scottish way to be eliminated.
The Dutch are next in action tomorrow night and a draw at home to Austria would ensure their place in the play-offs as group winners. Scotland, assuming they defeat Luxembourg, would then likely need to win in Austria to have a chance of being one of the four best second-placed teams. At the moment they are ranked ninth in the runners-up table although that picture could alter dramatically over the coming days. "Winning both our remaining games will certainly give us a good chance of making it although there are still so many other factors to take in from the other groups," said Stark. "So things could change a lot over the next few days. We just have to make sure we deal with our side of things by taking maximum points.
"There's a chance we could go through the section undefeated and still go out which would be a hard luck story and very cruel. But we've taken it to the last two games and we've got a chance of qualifying so that's all we can ask for at this stage."
Stark will be without Jordan Rhodes and James Forrest for the two remaining games – both have graduated to the full squad – and has lost two of his goalkeepers, Mark Ridgers and Grant Adam, to injury. Jordan Archer of Tottenham Hotspur is therefore likely to add to his solitary cap.
"To lose two goalkeepers to quite serious injuries is unlucky," said Stark. "But Jordan's had good international experience with the under-19s and the under-20s and acquitted himself well. He's one with potential and so it's not a big decision to make. He's the one that will play in these games and we're comfortable enough with that. He played for Spurs' under-21s just last week so he's in reasonable shape."
Stark has greater options at the other end of the pitch. Goal difference could yet prove crucial and so Scotland will look to Johnny Russell, Leigh Griffiths and Tony Watt to provide the goals to see off Luxembourg. Rhodes scored a hat trick in the away match earlier in the campaign and there is surely scope for one of his successors to do likewise against a nation who have lost all their group games to date, conceding 25 goals in the process.
"Leigh has come back in after missing a spell due to his indiscipline on the park, said Stark. "At that time I felt it was better to leave him out. But you always know what you will get from Leigh. He will work hard for the team and he's always got a goal in him. Johnny's from the exact same mould, while we've known about Tony for a while from his time with the under-19s. He seems to have matured a bit and he's a strong, powerful boy who has shown himself to be a decent finisher. That department is reasonably healthy and they've all started the season well with their clubs.
"Goal difference could be a factor but it's not part of our gameplan for the Luxembourg game. In the game against them over there they had as much of the ball in the early stages as we did. The days of going in to a game thinking you will win easily are probably gone. You could still win a match fairly comfortably in the end but you have to work hard to get to that position and take your chances. Our only thought just now is to make sure we win the game."
Scotland need Austria to be brilliant on Friday and hopeless by Monday. Stopping the Dutch from winning the group now seems a fairly fanciful notion but Stark is not entirely without hope. "I think that Austria are capable of winning there but Holland are obviously favourites. They only need a draw which makes it easier for them. But if we are to qualify as one of the best runners-up rather than group winners, then there would be no shame in that."