Just before the end of last year, Nicola Sturgeon promised both an “updated analysis” of her European strategy and publication of the SNP’s long-awaited “Growth Commission” report.

The latter, she predicted, would be a “catalyst” for “relaunching the arguments for independence”. After the events of the past year – a referendum bid now airbrushed from history and the General Election setback – the First Minister must sincerely be hoping that’s true.

Perhaps Andrew Wilson’s voluminous report will succeed in squaring various independence circles, not least the question of currency and closing the (currently notional) fiscal deficit, or perhaps it won’t. That such questions are finally being treated seriously rather than as mere debating points is good; that it took so long is not so good.

Many people, and I don’t just mean sceptical commentators, have noticed that the independence tide has receded since its high watermark during 2015. Following September 2014, many Nationalists got caught in a bubble – one in which everyone saw the logic of independence and therefore it didn’t need any further extrapolation – and only in 2016 did that begin to burst.

The election result itself contradicted several realities the SNP had been in denial about: that the Scottish Tory revival was real, that Brexit in itself had not moved the dial when it came to independence support, that Labour was suddenly a threat again and, chiefly, that the prospect of another referendum – as in Quebec in 2014 – had become a vote loser.

So, it wasn’t surprising to find the SNP’s deputy Westminster leader Kirsty Blackman “markedly less keen” to talk about Scottish independence in a newspaper interview last week. Ms Blackman said she didn’t even view her role in the House of Commons as being to put pressure on the UK Government to hold another ballot on Scotland’s constitutional future.

“I don’t think most folk in their daily lives give two hoots about whether Scotland is a member of the Union,” she told the Guardian. “The constitutional issues are not the biggest concern for an awful lot of people and, in fact, I very rarely talk about Scottish independence in the chamber, because I talk about things that matter to the people of Aberdeen.”

The above quote was on the one hand a refreshingly honest analysis, but on the other rather puzzling. If after economic turmoil, Brexit, shambolic Tory government, etc, the average Scot doesn’t give “two hoots” about the Union, then a) doesn’t that rather indicate independence is going to be a hard sell if there is another referendum and b) what precisely is the point of the SNP?

Now the standard retort to that would be well, Brexit hasn’t actually happened yet, which is of course true. Therefore, the analysis appears to run, once the theory gives way to reality, hitherto No-inclined Scots will be queuing up to back independence. This belief also explains why the SNP has spent the last week flagging up the difference between it and Labour, the latter lacking – to quote Kirsty Blackman again – the “absolute consistency” of the Scottish Government.

It’s obviously difficult to argue that Labour hasn’t been all over the place on Brexit, if not downright dishonest, but even so, there’s little evidence this will matter very much to the electorate on 29 March 2019. If Labour’s stance on such an important question is, to quote Nicola Sturgeon yesterday, “ambivalent”, then it reflects the position of many voters too. By being so unequivocal, as we saw in June, the SNP actually loses votes.

And, as the more sensible elements within the National Movement are coming to realise, a lot of their (perfectly justifiable) criticisms of Brexit fantasies come across as a bit rich given the Yes campaign’s own Pollyanna-ish tendencies a few years ago. As the cerebral Yesser Andrew Tickell put it in a recent column, the political problems generated by Brexit “strike directly at the heart of the indy prospectus put to the Scottish people in 2014”.

Ah, reply the faithful, but the Leavers had nothing equivalent to the 2013 White Paper, which is a superficially good point. Pulling together a door-stopping document which claims to have the answer to life, the universe and everything is not the same as being realistic or politically prepared. Wishing in the course of 670 pages does not make it so.

As Tickell observed, the independence prospectus “ignored inconvenient power asymmetries” in the UK and EU, which is a polite way of saying it wasn’t realistic. And if that wasn’t realistic, nor were the vague Yes-like promises of Leave Campaigners a year and a half ago. Yessers, therefore, ought to plan, to quote Tickell again, and “avoid making their opponents’ mistakes”.

Again, that’s where Andrew Wilson’s Growth Commission comes in, forming part of that “plan” and closing down accusations of fantasy politics and lack of detail before they’re levelled during a second independence referendum. As I said earlier, it may well achieve that ambitious goal, but at the same time it risks offending some on the Left of the National Movement who are generally suspicious of Wilson and others on the economic Right.

Yesterday, the First Minister took aim at the “ongoing horror show of the Tories’ inept and chaotic Brexit plans” while at the same time repeating that independence “must remain an option” once the terms of the final Brexit deal are known. If that’s the basis of her “updated analysis” then it’s same old, same old.

In order to manage the movement, of course, Sturgeon has to keep a second referendum both on and off the table, but that approach is subject to the law of diminishing returns. Otherwise, she’s speaking vaguely of a “new spirit of Scottish assertiveness” coming “to the fore” during 2018. We shall see.