IT would mean so much, Kim Little confirms, if Great Britain’s female footballers can mine a lump of Olympic gold in Japan. No matter that the medallions are fabricated from the discarded innards of mobile phones rather than precious metal. It remains a priceless reward, one that far out-strips the certificates, uniforms and assorted trinkets she retained as the shards of participation at London 2012.

The 31-year-old’s second Games commence, officially, this morning. Not in Tokyo, but in the northern city of Sapporo, GB’s opponents Chile who are the lowest-ranked in a group that also includes Canada and Japan.

The Scotland and Arsenal midfielder is one of just three holdovers from nine years ago when euphoria on home soil was replaced by dejection with a loss to the Canadians in the quarter-finals. She expected it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Domestic politics negotiated, a do-over awaits.

“With the players we have put together, we have every chance of getting a medal,” Little declared. “We've had six weeks which is a limited amount of time to put together this team and try and achieve and reach our full potential. That's a challenge but it's exciting.”

One of the three appointed team captains, Little - along with fellow Scot Caroline Weir – featured prominently in last week’s 3-0 friendly win over New Zealand. Head coach Hege Riise will not unmask her line-up until prior to the opener. GB’s weakness is that their encounter with the Kiwis was their sole preparatory outing in unison. Their strength? That their rivals do not know quite what to expect, now that four nations have become one.

A distinct UK Way has been established, the chief stylist maintains. “I hope we see this team coming with a lot energy and confidence,” pronounced Riise, who in addition to winning gold at Sydney 2000 as a player for Norway, was also an assistant with the United States team which emerged triumphant at London 2012. “We want to attack and defend as a team. Be brave with the ball. That's what we do in training.”

The pathway to gold may be as torturous as an overhead sun so searing that residents in some parts of Japan were advised yesterday against exercising outdoors. The men’s tournament permits only three players over the age of 23. The women invite the best of the best. Just 12 elite teams. The cream of the crop. The gold medal game will be held at Japan’s national stadium, the showpiece among the Olympic venues in Tokyo.

With Scotland falling short of Euro 2022 upon regression from reaching the 2019 World Cup, Little has every incentive to savour this opportunity. “Obviously this is a different experience to a World Cup or Euros because it's a multi-sport event,” she said.

“Steph Houghton and me talked about it, how we were a lot younger in 2012. So to be able to do again now, in our thirties. it's something we are incredibly grateful for. But it does give us that opportunity to do it with a bit more presence and mindfulness about what we're getting to do.”

She will be among the first of the 376 Brits in action across 26 sports at Tokyo’s troubled Games, a few hours after Japan’s softball clash with Australia spurs Tokyo 2020 off its starting blocks. 12 months late, with panicked frenzies of fear still spiking that somehow all could yet be cancelled at the last, Olympic chiefs will hope this is where the narrative shifts to sport and away from Covid.

Collectively, GB’s women are the first generation to earn a decent wage from the game, to have their talents exposed on television, to be granted equal status – if not pay – among clubs that were long men-only. That prior Olympic engagement, says Little, was a healthy catalyst for change.

“And I very much think that this Olympics can do the same thing and take it forward even more,” she forecasts. “There's so much more opportunity even in Scotland now. There’s a few teams especially investing in their women's team, being semi-professionals, with Rangers, Glasgow City and Celtic. There's so much opportunity. And you can view that from a younger age, which is great for young girls in Scotland.”