Huge Saltires drape the cavernous hall, the sound system pumps out We are the Champions, 10,000 fervent Nationalists shout themselves hoarse for their hero: "Alex, Alex, Alex."

The man himself bounds on stage, pumped up for political rockn'roll, punching the air, and bellowing into the microphone: "Well, awwwllll rrriiiight!!!"

At that point, Angus Robertson wakes up in a cold sweat. The SNP campaign director is having his 1992 nightmare again. His leader is emulating Labour's Neil Kinnock and a winning campaign is being derailed by triumphalism.

That same Westminster election is casting a long shadow over several parts of this year's battle for Holyrood. The SNP learned from Labour what to avoid. Others are reminded that a close-fought two-horse race can squeeze smaller parties. The Scottish LibDem vote fell from 19 to 13%, and the Green surge at the 1989 European election was wiped out.

But 15 years after being left devastated by the result, it is Jack McConnell's Labour that hopes to repeat on Thursday what John Major's Tories did in 1992. Its poll anoraks take hope from opinion poll patterns similar to this month, in that the opposition challenger, then Labour, led in most surveys yet still lost.

After 13 years in power, the Tories faced a public appetite for change, though unlike Labour this year, that had been partially achieved by the departure of Margaret Thatcher 18 months before. Tories went straight for the weak spot in the Labour programme, the budget drawn up by Shadow Chancellor John Smith. They talked of a "tax bombshell" and a tax "double whammy", sowing doubt in the public mind that Labour would prove expensive.

Sounds familiar? Tony Blair was in Scotland last week, talking up "triple tax" fears, including a £5000 annual independence bill for the average household, and local income tax making Scotland "the highest taxed part of the UK".

In the final days of the 1992 campaign, the charismatically-challenged John Major took to a soap box with a megaphone, warning voters to "wake up, wake up" because the Union was in danger. On Saturday, the charisma-lite Jack McConnell campaigned in Hamilton in the Major style with an identical message.

Back then, Neil Kinnock had done enough to persuade people not to vote Tory, but he hadn't done enough to get them to switch to Labour. His triumphalism and Major's last gasp appeal to patriotism was enough to swing it.

The analysis of the two main parties is the same. Labour's voters have disengaged. Labour's tactics have been, above all, to terrify its former voters about the consequences of a switch to the SNP, even at the potential expense of the LibDems and Tories gaining pro-Union votes.

The SNP knows undecided voters are there for persuading, and these final days are when it needs to close the deal. Never having been close to power before, and slightly dizzy at the prospect, it needs to avoid the opinion poll lead giving way to bloated triumphalism, as Neil Kinnock did in 1992.

If Labour is right and it could still pull off a tight victory, it should remember those are not the only lessons of 1992. First, Labour's disappointment on the morning of April 10 was the birthplace of Blair's New Labour project.

John Major had squeaked a 20-seat majority, and rather than the predicted devastation in Scotland, his party gained a seat (at Nicol Stephen's expense, as it happens). The Tories were gloating. Scottish Secretary Ian Lang set up a "taking stock" exercise to review the case for devolution. Predictably, it came to nothing.

The party at Westminster then descended into civil war over Europe, blew its economic credibility and neglected internal reform. By complacently failing to learn the lessons of nearly losing in 1992, it was unprepared to halt a far worse wipe-out five years later.