In spring of 2011, journalists were invited to a press conference with Alex Salmond on the eve of the Holyrood election campaign.

A reporter from The Herald asked the First Minister if this was to be his "valedictory" press conference, what would be his legacy?

Salmond responded with his trademark chuckle, leaving it to the assembled hacks to discuss among themselves how his tenure in office would be remembered. For his decision to scrap tuition fees? Increasing police numbers? Freezing council tax?

The SNP landslide a few weeks later meant the valedictory press conference was postponed until 2014, by which point Scotland’s political landscape had been transformed.

Salmond’s legacy was clear: he led the SNP to power against the odds; terrified the British establishment by turning Scottish independence from an impossible dream into near-reality; and created deep divisions in Scottish society which are destined to hurt for decades.

He was a man utterly convinced that every decision he took was the right one.

In that regard, he was the mirror opposite to Nicola Sturgeon: a First Minister who is today paralysed by indecision.

Her conference speech this weekend demonstrated that she has no idea what to do about the timing of any second independence referendum.

Like the Grand Old Duke of York she has already marched her troops to the top of the hill. They want to march onwards to the promised land, but sensible heads in the SNP know they should take a few steps back.

Kevin Pringle, Salmond’s former top adviser and probably the wisest of all heads, wrote yesterday: “The likelihood is there won’t be another independence referendum any time soon.”

So Sturgeon, unsure of herself, remains at the top of that hill not knowing which way to turn.

Undeniably a less divisive and much warmer character than her predecessor, it’s only three years since she had the world at her feet. The historic 2015 General Election victory nearly wiped every other party from the map, and she enjoyed a 56-point positive approval rating in the polls.

Last week, those approval ratings slipped into negative territory – minus 2 – for the first time.

The transformation from "Queen of Scots" to a First Minister unsure of her own footing was the EU referendum.

SNP strategists dreamt of a Remain vote in Scotland and a Leave vote in the rest of the UK. They got their wish and Sturgeon wasted no time in announcing that a second independence referendum was "highly likely".

But Brexit didn’t deliver the boost in support for independence that Nationalist strategists had anticipated.

Today, with a Tory government that has no idea how it will deliver Brexit and a Labour Party letting Theresa May get away with it, support for independence remains stubbornly static at around 45 per cent.

In SNP HQ they must stare at the polling data in bewilderment, while excitable party activists simply don’t believe the numbers.

So they are thrown scraps from the top table to keep them happy: a ‘summer initiative’ in 2016; and now a series of "national assemblies" this summer.

But in the First Minister’s conference speech at the weekend, and on the Sunday TV shows yesterday, there was still no hint of a timetable for a second referendum.

Sturgeon bears the scars from when she proposed a new contest before Spring 2019, which led to the immediate loss of 21 Westminster seats in the General Election. It would have been even more if voters had trusted Jeremy Corbyn to oppose indyref2.

The First Minister has a mandate for another contest, but knows she would almost certainly lose it if she called one today.

The Growth Commission report has been a gift for the opposition parties. For the Tories it allows them to focus on the threat of independence – the reason they have been revitalised as a political force in Scotland. For Labour, it presents an opportunity to win back voters on the Left who are horrified by the report’s realistic warnings about the deficit facing an independent Scotland.

It’s unlikely to deliver any polling boost for independence.

The First Minister’s own uncertainty appears to have spread to her spin operation, with the party so conflicted that it didn’t even host a press conference to launch the report. That would have been unthinkable in Salmond’s day.

If delivering independence isn’t to be Sturgeon’s legacy, what of her record in delivering public services?

The flagship announcement at the weekend was an immediate pay increase for NHS staff: just one year after she voted against a Holyrood motion which called for the lifting of the cap on pay rises for nurses.

Belated or not, it will be welcomed by NHS workers, but they are still left to struggle with a workforce planning crisis of the SNP’s own making. There are nearly 3,000 vacant nursing posts, along with more than 400 consultant posts. Bed blocking is on the rise, A&E waiting times are a scandal, and hundreds of operations are being cancelled because hospitals can’t cope.

The Health Secretary Shona Robison should have been sacked months ago, but the First Minister is so indecisive that she hasn’t reshuffled her stale Cabinet for two years.

There is some incredible talent among the 2016 intake waiting in the wings in the SNP’s ranks at Holyrood, yet they are inexplicably being denied an office in the ministerial tower.

With teachers threatening strike action and public trust in Police Scotland being eroded, the First Minister’s legacy is not going to be a transformation in public services.

There is an unwillingness to consider radical new ideas within the Nationalist administration. Alex Neil, the former SNP minister, admitted as much this month: “There is a perception that the Government has lost some of its mojo.”

But Sturgeon is not yet dragging the SNP’s poll ratings down with her.

The Nationalists remain on course to win again in 2021, with support for the Tories facing a natural ceiling in Scotland and Scottish Labour’s fortunes now tied too closely to Jeremy Corbyn – who has a popularity rating of minus 30.

Perhaps Sturgeon’s legacy will be to secure another SNP victory which could, in time, allow her to hand over the reins to a new, more decisive leader. Scotland needs a First Minister who is prepared to make bold choices – for better or worse.