After spending just half of the anticipated 12 weeks out of action, Stuart Hogg is one of four British & Irish Lions recalled to the Scotland back line in a huge overhaul following last weekend’s defeat by Wales in Cardiff.

Only three players will start the match wearing the same shirts as last weekend, with nine personnel changes and three further personnel switches, as six of last weekend’s starting XV – Blair Kinghorn, Huw and Lee Jones, Ali Price, Ben Toolis and Hamish Watson - drop out of the match 23 altogether.

There were bound to be changes this weekend as the exiles became available now World Rugby’s official autumn international window is upon us, which explains the return of those other three Lions – Sean Maitland, Finn Russell and Greig Laidlaw - to a back line, in which Alex Dunbar switches to outside centre to accommodate Pete Horne.

Another of the exiles, Exeter Chief Sam Skinner, will make his international debut, alongside Grant Gilchrist as Jonny Gray unusually finds himself relegated to the bench, with Fraser Brown another who is reintroduced to the front five as, in the back-row, Ryan Wilson and Jamie Ritchie are shuffled to make room for Matt Fagerson at No.8.

With Stuart McInally another of those benched, Laidlaw extends his record as the man who has captained Scotland more than any other but, as is his wont, head coach Gregor Townsend proffered a wholly positive explanation of the changes, rather than indicate that anyone had been dropped.

“We knew we'd have more players available this week with the guys who play outside of Scotland coming back in and someone like Stuart Hogg now back fit,” he said.“I've also looked at the four games and how we manage players. We had a squad in mind for this weekend and were just hoping everyone got through their games at the weekend so we could put that together.”

There is, in the modern game, a disconnect between how coaches seek to characterise dynamics when claiming all 23 players in a match-day selection have equal status and stressing the need to manage resources for the overall good and how players continue to see things in targeting selection for the starting XV. Not least because Townsend was among those who acknowledged that the centre had reason to be particularly disappointed with how both Welsh tries were scored,then, Huw Jones will do well to accept that there is no correlation between his performance and his inactivity this week, but the coach duly sought to offer him public reassurance.

“Huw is like a number of players we are managing through this period, so he is not involved. He was close to being involved on the bench, but we just felt that with Chris able to cover the wing, that was the decision around his involvement,” Townsend explained.

The big bonus is, of course, Hogg's return to fitness quickly enough to take part, his eagerness to do so demonstrated last weekend when, having functioned as water-boy for Glasgow in Swansea on Friday night, he unsuccessfully pestered the Scotland management to let him take those duties from assistant coach Mike Blair the next day. That he might return well ahead of schedule was known even before he began training with Glasgow last week, but he has continued to defy the odds since.

“He was at St Andrews as part of our leadership group along with John Barclay, though he didn't train,” Townsend reported. “We can see with logic and science what he's run and what his body has said the day after that. We were initially thinking it would South Africa that he would be available for given his diagnosis. Two weeks ago, both him and the medical team were saying Fiji was a possibility, but he still had markers to pass on his ankle and how his body reacts and copes with different stresses and he's come through that very well."

It will be a special day for two members of the pack with that debut for Skinner makes his Test debut and a first home Test for Fagerson, who was in the tram beaten by the USA in the summer and came off the bench in Cardiff.

“He's trained really well and has performed well for Exeter over the last couple of seasons,” Townsend said of Skinner.“He's a very mobile second row, he's played a lot rugby in the back-row and finished a lot of games in the back-row for the Chiefs, so we're keen to see that in action. A lot of his strengths align with what we're looking for, good-decision makers, skilful enough to run the right lines and make the right pass, but he also has experience from his team and the competition he plays in around the set-piece and we've got to make sure we're very strong there this weekend.

Fagerson has meanwhile been rewarded for his Champions Cup performances for Glasgow with the coach saying: “He's been in really good form so he's earned his opportunity. I felt he did really well last weekend, so he's got straight back into playing Test level rugby from his experience out in Houston and he's looking to grab his chance.”