a 2020 Vision" to commit the nation's performance targets to black and white. Today they stand as a permanent reminder that optimism alone will not restore Scotland's pride. The document was an act of faith by the Scottish Football Association, a promise in effect that the association was going to shed its old ways and become a modern, forward-looking organisation. The chief executive, Stewart Regan, has indeed overseen changes that have fulfilled many of the promises in Scotland United, but those have not included performances on the pitch.
In the Scotland United document, it was underlined that the national sides had not qualified for a major championship final since 1998. "The immediate target is qualification for Uefa Euro 2012 and the Uefa Women's Euro campaigns," the brochure pointed out. "By 2015 both squads should be qualifying for the World Cup finals."
As everybody knows, it has not happened. The Scotland men's team has crashed and burned spectacularly, finishing third in the Euro 2012 qualifying group and failing even to make the play-offs. Then, in what was probably the biggest blow to the national footballing psyche since Argentina in 1978, the 2014 World Cup campaign was fatally holed before the ship had even reached the fifth of 10 scheduled stops.
In the midst of this wreckage, a lifeline appeared for the SFA in the shape of the women's team, who came within a hairsbreadth of qualifying for this summer's Euro finals in Sweden. It was, even so, a traditionally Scottish exit: eliminated by the last kick of the ball last October when the side went behind for the first time in the 210 minutes of the play-off against Spain. At least Anna Signeul's side are at the "glorious" failure stage - it is now almost an act of nostalgia to look back at the time when the men's team could grab at this dubious consolation. And it is to Signeul's players that the nation, and the SFA, must now look for at least one of the four targets in the Scotland United document being attained.
The far-flung setting of Torsvallur, in Torshavn, is where the Scottish women kick off their 2015 World Cup campaign with a match against the Faroe Islands on Sunday evening. Signeul's side are the second seeds in Group 4, but their task in trying to reach the finals in Canada is arguably the most difficult of those which were set out in the Scotland United document.
All was going well at the World Cup draw at Uefa headquarters in Nyon until Sweden emerged from the pot of top seeds and were placed in Group 4. A powerhouse in women's football, they are ranked fifth in the world and reached the semi-finals of the Euros in the summer. Sweden, Germany and France were the nations which all the others hoped to avoid. There are only eight European places available in Canada, and seven of these will go to the group winners. The four best runners-up in the seven groups will then play off for the eighth spot.
As a Swede herself, Signeul does not need reminding of how difficult it will be to beat them; a powerful, physically-imposing, side who won 4-1 when the teams last met in a friendly at Stark's Park. To win the group is a big ask, and, although nobody in the Scotland camp will concede it, the best chance of arriving in Canada is through an intensely competitive play-off.
Yet, what is undeniable is that the Scottish women have, through hard work, many sacrifices and meticulous preparation, given themselves the best chance of qualifying. They are now ranked 20th in the world and 11th in Europe, both their highest places ever, and it is out of their control that there are far fewer places available in women's World Cups and Euro finals than there are in the men's version.
Signeul, ably assisted by the head of girls' and women's football at the SFA, Sheila Begbie, had personally put a performance pathway in place long before her employer even acknowledged that one might be desirable in men's football also. A national performance centre at the University of Stirling is helping to produce some excellent young players as well as encouraging performances by the women's under-17 and under-19 sides.
Craig Levein, while ultimately responsible as Scotland manager for the poor Euro 2012 and early 2014 World Cup results, was one of the main catalysts for the SFA belatedly concluding that they had to drag the men's game into the 21st century. One of the outcomes was "Scotland United: A 2020 Vision", but it was premature to commit Levein's teams to such immediate expectation.
The former Scotland manager had lost the vast majority of the fans before his dismissal, but at the core of his difficulties was the quality of the players at his disposal. Results, and performances, have been better under Gordon Strachan, but the euphoria generated by a 1-0 win over a subdued Croatia, as well as a 2-1 victory against Macedonia, is misplaced, as the game against Belgium at Hampden demonstrated.
The SFA, correctly, point out that it will take time for their men's performance strategy to kick in, and might have been wiser to include that caveat in the Scotland United document. There is now another huge investment of faith, this time in the association's performance schools - a welcome development but one which only time can reveal as a panacea.