YET again, FMQs reminded us what it means to truly suffer.

For Nicola Sturgeon it was “23 years of frustration, pain and standing on the sidelines”.

No, not waiting for Alex Salmond to jog on, but Scotland’s self-inflicted exile from big-time football

“It has been a long 23-year wait for the men’s international team to qualify for a major finals,” sniffed Douglas Ross, who as a Scottish Tory knows a bit about futility. 

“I am sure that I speak on behalf of the whole Parliament in wishing Steve Clarke and his entire squad all the very best for the Euros,” he declared, referring to Glasgow's upcoming festival of Covid.

While Scottish Labour’s Anas Sarwar offered a fresh twist.

“This is their opportunity to catch up with the great leadership that has been shown by the women’s team in recent years,” he said, before adding the irreversible curse: “They will - I hope - give us a summer of hope, optimism and cheer." Uh-oh.

Ms Sturgeon added she would be “absolutely behind [the side] as they kick the first ball and all the way through the tournament”. 

It later emerged she wouldn’t be at Scotland’s first two matches and may not be at the third, meaning she could miss the entire first round. 

A touch cavalier given Scotland could miss the entire second.

But mostly FMQs was about that other national tragedy, education.

In particular, the grades senior pupils will get later this month and whether they will be fair or an algorithmic nightmare like last year.

Mr Ross was untickled about Ms Sturgeon assuring MSPs that grades wouldn’t be based on the “historical performance of schools”.

But that's quite true, she said. 

Yet, as the details were teased out, the First Minister acknowledged that past school results would be considered, prior to the final grade being given by a teacher, as a “quality assurance” measure. 

But fear not, even with a heedie waving a stack of precedents in their face, a teacher could easily stick to their original grade, not lower it.

“This is the same shambles as last year,” said a doubtful Mr Ross, appearing to hope it were so. 

“It is just more sleekit because instead of the SQA marking pupils down at the end of the process, the system will force teachers and schools to do it.”

Ms Sturgeon said Mr Ross "should by all means raise all these issues" but stick to reality, eh pal? 

"I'm glad I've permission from the First Minister to raise issues such as education," he shrieked back. 

Children! Please!

Mr Sarwar took it up a notch.

“The Government can try and deny it, but we are in the midst of a second exams crisis,” he tutted, more in hope than in evidence.  

Why, the appeals process was “non-functioning”. That, said Ms Sturgeon, was a bit rich given the system "has not even started yet”.

Non-starting dysfunctionality? Thank God we've got the Scotland side to take our minds off such things.