Glasgow Caledonian Reds v Leicester

As the English champions arrived in Scotland yesterday, it was impossible to dismiss the memory of their last European Cup meeting with Scottish opposition.

Leicester 90, Glasgow 19 is a result etched on the psyche of all concerned and overcoming it looks as much of a challenge as anything else ahead of tomorrow's match at Perth's McDiarmid Park.

Four members of that beaten Glasgow side - Gordon Bulloch, James Craig, Gordon McIlwham, Tommy Hayes, and Glenn Metcalfe - must face their demons and so, too, must coach Richie Dixon.

That match may not have been a direct factor in his subsequent ousting from the Scotland coach's job, but it unquestionably contributed to the sense of malaise around the Scottish game that fateful winter.

''We're not even thinking about that game,'' he said yesterday, observing that this is a brand new team which, indeed, contains almost as many of the Caledonian Reds side which was unluckily beaten at Leicester's Welford Road that very same season.

The extent to which Scottish rugby, its professional structure, and Dixon's coaching have reinvented themselves, or perhaps more accurately regrouped, since that harrowing afternoon in the English Midlands, will be fully tested tomorrow.

They may have been lucky to beat Stade Francais at home a fortnight ago, in between defeats from Leinster and Saracens, but Leicester rugby remains the benchmark for any British side.

There is no better supported club on the mainland and, while Dean Richards will not name his side until tomorrow, it is certain to be a World XV of the highest calibre, most probably led by Martin Johnson.

That the England captain is something of a sinister presence on a rugby field is something cultivated by Leicester to enhance the intimidation factor which is central to their image.

Johnson has taken over that role as the personification of grim-faced, dull-but-effective rugby from Richards himself and both have unbeaten competitive records against Scottish sides.

By contrast with Leicester's long tradition, which has helped create such imposing figures, Dixon points out that Scottish indecision over the way forward has hugely inhibited progress, professional rugby having effectively made a fresh start here for a fourth successive season.

The coach made also made the observation that Scottish sides have yet to get beyond the second phase of that construction process, having had to relay the foundations so often. He described the four phases of construction as formation of the side, analysis of individual and collective abilities, formation of a settled side, and consolidation.

As if to underline his point, then, it is a far from settled side that he has selected for this match.

Having been in commanding form at No.8, Scotland back-row man Gordon Simpson is moved to blindside flanker in the interests of ''greater balance''.

That allows newcomer Roland Reid to switch to the No.8 role to which no less an authority than Scotland manager Dougie Morgan observed last weekend that the pacy South African looks better suited.

Donny McFadyen, therefore, finds himself head to head with British Lion Neil Back, but the 21-year-old's maturity is such that he seems unlikely to be fazed.

For those who remember with some relish his electrifying performances in that aforementioned 1997 European campaign, the reintroduction of James Craig, and Dixon's belief that he is close to regaining top form after the crisis of confidence that has affected the Bearsden Express over the past couple of seasons, is an exciting decision.

Glasgow Caledonian Reds - G Metcalfe; J Craig, A Bulloch, J Stuart, S Longstaff; T Hayes, A Nicol; D Hilton, G Bulloch, G McIlwham, S Campbell, J White, G Simpson, D McFadyen, R Reid. Replacements - B irving, I McInroy, F Stott, J Petrie, S Griffiths, A Watt, G Scott.

Kevin Ferrie