Invited to set a tone at the first of umpteen set-piece press conferences to be staged in the Scotland camp this autumn Mike Blair’s opening comments would normally have passed as standard platitudes and perhaps that is all they were.

However there seemed more reason than ever for the message delivered by the former Scotland captain who always carried himself with dignity during a playing career which coincided with pretty grim days for Scottish rugby on the field and, from time to time, some disappointing behaviour off it.

“The players had a meeting last night just to talk through what this series means, what playing for Scotland means. There was a re-focussing of the minds,” he said.

With the marketeers having done their bit, generating sell-out crowds for the forthcoming visits of New Zealand and Australia, perhaps even for today’s meeting with Samoa such has been the uptake of tickets, doing so has taken on renewed importance in light of much that has surrounded the sport in recent times.

As a senior Murrayfield official acknowledged, unprompted, the other day, The Herald’s football editor Neil Cameron was well within his rights to raise the points he did this week about the lack of reaction from politicians to the shameful behaviour that has been associated with both codes of rugby in Scotland, as compared with their previous condemnations of footballers whose behaviour has fallen below acceptable standards.

In fairness, as Scotland’s head coach Gregor Townsend rightly pointed out, this has also been a week that has seen the very best of rugby with the sport rallying round to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for Doddie Weir’s foundation. The reaction of the rugby community to the big man’s plight, since he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, has been magnificent and the way bonds have traditionally been formed, leading to that response, is for the most part exemplary.

Sadly, though, there is still evidence on social media of some within the sport seeking to laugh off the culture of initiation ceremonies that can be grossly abused by the irresponsible, while the fact that the father of a member of the current Scotland squad found himself wrapped up in the most repellent recent example, receiving a lengthy ban from the sport as a result, speaks to the close-knit nature of the Scottish rugby community. That squad meanwhile contains another player who was stripped of his professional team’s captaincy, just weeks after being appointed, due to his behaviour on a night out, while a member of the last Scotland starting XV is absent because of an investigation into drug use.

We are meanwhile told of bust-ups within the national camp under the previous regime over failure to observe morning ceremonies and ugly tales of the bare-handed slaying of animals as some sort of misplaced demonstration of manhood when it is plain that, if it happened, the players who showed real strength of character were those who had the courage to reject peer pressure and express no interest in taking part.

Asked about his first game in charge of the team at Murrayfield and to place it in the context of his last there as a player, Townsend meanwhile struggled initially to recall when that was, before suggesting it was a warm-up match against Italy before the 2003 World Cup.

“I was probably thinking I would have another game the following season, but that didn’t happen,” he said, with a smile.

That referred back to another ignominious chapter when the antics of the Scotland squad on and off the field saw them become a laughing stock in Australia resulting in a misplaced attempt to reboot things with a huge overhaul of the squad on their return.This, then, is Townsend’s chance to make a fresh start in front of his ain folk at Murrayfield, an opportunity to make a statement regarding the way Scotland intend to go about their business.

The entertaining way his Glasgow Warriors teams have sought to play over recent years means he arrived in post with a great deal of goodwill and there was encouragement to be drawn on his first tour in charge from a rare away win over one of the sport’s super-powers in Australia. Admittedly that was tarnished a little the following week with his side’s defeat in Fiji, carrying echoes of another of the more unhappy episodes of his own playing days when he was part of a team that conceded 51 points in a Test there, but all of that was a long way from home and this year’s tour was conducted without a few of his leading men.

Tellingly only three of the XV which started that match in Suva – captain John Barclay, Jonny Gray and Willem Nel – have retained their places, while the coach has explained the thinking behind the selection of club units, an entire Glasgow Warriors back line, linked to the pack by their club captain Ryan Wilson, along with an all Edinburgh front-row.

It makes sense to seek to minimise the amount of training time spent generating basic understanding when there is so little of it available in international camps.There are risks in over-adherence to such thinking, but taking injuries into account, it is hard to identify any player who is not entitled to his place on current form. Getting on for six years after his last appearance in a Murrayfield Test, Lee Jones might seem slightly fortunate to feature as part of that all-Glasgow back line right enough, but in fairness to the winger he got a Test win to his name at the fifth attempt in making his comeback in that win over Australia in the summer and has played his part in forming an exciting back three unit with Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour. With Ali Price and Finn Russell calling the shots and Huw Jones arriving from South Africa, fresh from helping Western Province win the prestigious Currie Cup, it is a team packed with more flair than any Scotland has fielded since the days of Andy Irvine, Jim Renwick and John Rutherford.

Today’s opposition should be ideal for the opening of a series that Townsend must hope will set the tone for his tenure. Discipline in defence and sound set-piece technique will be required to absorb Samoan aggression and dynamism, the only major worry being the largely enforced deployment of a relatively inexperienced front five. If they can minimise encouragement for their visitors in the first half hour or so, the way should be paved for those strike runners to impress and set up a victory by a more comfortable margin than Scotland have previously enjoyed against these opponents.

That would be the ideal way to set the scene for next week’s tilt at history when the All Blacks are in town and Townsend and his squad have their big chance to re-align the way Scottish rugby is viewed.