Three years ago, when Australia had a pot at goal to win at Murrayfield after time was up, Matt Giteau missed. Yesterday, when Greig Laidlaw had an even tougher attempt at goal into a blustery gale in Australia's Hunter Stadium, the ball seemed certain to be sent through the middle from the second he lined up the shot.
It means that Scotland achieved something they have not managed for 30 years, not only beating the Wallabies on their home patch for the first time since 1982, but also winning consecutive games against them, a feat they last achieved with victories in '81 and '82. It also lifts the pressure off Andy Robinson, the Scotland head coach, who had gone seven matches without a win, but managed to cajole his side to pull out the performance of the season – certainly in defence – and in the most improbable of circumstances.
For once, it must be said, he got the breaks. This was far from a full-strength Australian side, with injuries and the need to rest players before they play Wales on Saturday, costing them some first-choice players. The weather probably also helped Scotland – "A bit of a leveller," was Robinson's summation – with wind and rain affecting the whole game.
Yet, there was no luck about the heroic defensive display that won the game. It was magnificent, stirring stuff of the kind that Scotland have occasionally looked capable but have produced all too rarely. It was reminiscent of the way in which they beat England in 2006 – the famous match of 200 tackles – or the determination that defeated Australia three years ago, only even better.
They were also helped by the hosts' ineptitude. Playing straight into the gale – it took a great strike to kick the ball more than about 10 yards – Scotland struggled to get the ball away from their line. Almost all the play was in the Scots 22, much of it within a few feet of the goal line. What would have happened if Australia had been less inclined to use route-one rugby, trying to crash through tackles that were piling in with enthusiasm and determination, we will never know. It could scarcely have been less effective.
Robinson had faced some suggestions that perhaps he was struggling to keep spirits and morale high so, for the Scotland coach, this win will have felt like a vindication of his efforts: both that after seven straight defeats he has finally engineered a win and irrefutable proof the players are prepared to put their bodies on the line for him.
It was that determination that won this game, with all the forwards in magnificent form and the back row stand-out players within that all-round effort. They simply refused to allow the Wallabies any way through and on the one occasion that the home side did manage to get the ball over the line there were far too many bodies, most of them Scots, around the ball for any official to have given it.
Not that it looked that way throughout the match. In the first half, when Scotland had the wind behind them, they inevitably dominated territory but had little to show for it. The nearest they came to a try was from an up and under from Stuart Hogg, the full-back, that the home defence missed. A kinder bounce and Joe Ansbro, the Scotland wing, would have been in; as it was, it fell for Joe Tomane, his Australian counterpart, who got to the ball first.
So it was all about kicks, and although Scotland won that battle in the first half, few at the ground believed they had done enough when they reached the interval with Laidlaw having put over two penalties against one for Mike Harris, the Australian centre.
A three-point lead and now playing into a gale against a team 10 places higher in the rankings; it looked a lost cause and that feeling was hardened when Harris drew the scores level two minutes into the second half. Only, the home side could not manage another score. They hammered at the Scots line but they would not yield. Two long-range shots at goal and a drop goal all sailed wide, and another couple of tricky penalties were kicked to touch rather than goal. It was all a test of Scottish courage and concentration. For once, they passed.
So when, with time running out, Scotland broke the siege, they may have had an inkling of what was to come; a neat little jink from Laidlaw set up the attack, before two scrums on the hosts' 22 – the furthest upfield Scotland had been all afternoon – collapsed. Up went the referee's arm for a penalty, and it was all left to Laidlaw. "It was probably the toughest kick in front of the posts I've ever had," he said. "Hats off to Euan Murray and the boys in the scrum; that was for them."
It was never in doubt. Laidlaw has done this so often for Edinburgh, it was a question of keeping his cool and doing it again. Then the celebrations could begin.