MUCH of the chat in the build-up to yesterday’s fourth and final Autumn Test was all about the numbers game played by coach Gregor Townsend in switching the tried and tested fly-half Finn Russell to inside centre – from 10 to 12. But those are just two numbers in Townsend’s XV that will shape his thinking going into 2019, World Cup year. Stewart Weir does some of his own number crunching

1 ... The new cap who stood out during the series was Sam Skinner, he of Exeter Chiefs. A man-of-the match performance first up against Fiji, he proved equally adept when shifting across the scrum against the Springboks to blind-side. A “utility” – but only in as much as his inclusion, at England’s expense, looks as profitable as shares in one of the Big Six gas or electricity suppliers.

2 ... Pieces of magic from Huw Jones against the Boks – or was it those two missed tackles of his against Wales that will be remembered from November 2018? Let’s go glass half full

3 ... Brings us to tight-heads. While WP Nel and Simon Berghan have had their moments under the floodlights, has either really put down a marker where they – rather than a fit-and-ready Zander Fagerson – would be entrusted to hold up a corner of the scrum?

4 ... Autumn Tests. There was once upon a time just one, then a couple, then three, but, in playing Wales, Scotland matched other nations in adding a fourth Test to their autumn schedule. Not universally accepted outside Murrayfield, but some of the criticism was levelled by those who, come Japan next year, would jump all over the coach and the establishment if they thought failure could be blamed on a lack of preparation and game time together. File under “rock and a hard place”.

5 ... The famous shirt number of a few, but in particularly one GW “Doddie” Weir, now carried by his My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. The brouhaha that erupted ahead of the Welsh game over what exactly Doddie’s charity was to receive was, for outsiders, understandable, but largely unmerited, particularly when it came to giving the Scottish Rugby Union a shoeing. If you are going to lash out, make sure you don’t kick a largely innocent party

6 ... Nations. Just around the corner. The real test (or Test) in the Northern Hemisphere. Given Scotland’s performance levels of late, winning it shouldn’t be beyond us, but – as we saw in Cardiff – away from Murrayfield, the team appear a shadow of themselves

7 ... Points, chasing them, instead of going for the three on offer. It happened against Wales and, more notably, against the Springboks when a penalty would have drawn Scotland level. The Scots went for a line-out and drive, and drove up a dead-end. Give me a “P” (for pragmatism or penalty) any day, Bob.

8 ... The number of changes made to the side from the Springboks fixture that took to the field yesterday against Argentina. Some might categorise that under wholesale. However, it still looked like a genuine Scotland team rather than a few years back, when it might have appeared more of a benefit game select XV. Further evidence, if required, that Scotland have a strength in depth which is genuine, not merely another way of describing a 30-plus squad.

9 ... Laidlaw, Greig. Captain and scrum-half after coming back from injury, pretty much cemented in on both counts. Others had a clear run in his absence – and it would now appear, missed their chance

10 ... Minutes, against South Africa, when they were allowed to score crucial points when they were a man down after Willie le Roux was sin-binned. Scotland need to be more clinical in such situations

11 ... Months (roughly) now until the World Cup kicks off in Japan, when the team tackle Ireland, a significant tie, more so now Ireland believe they are on top of the world after beating the All Blacks. Gregor Townsend’s men could do themselves a good turn in February when the Irish visit Murrayfield

12 ... The number Finn Russell acquired yesterday with Adam Hastings at 10. There’s nothing wrong with experimentation. Townsend knows all about being shunted to centre (when Craig Chalmers was given the nod ahead of him) and you only need to look over the Border to see how Jonny Wilkinson and Rob Andrew traded places in the development of the former. What would have been preferable was Russell showing his club form for Scotland before being moved. Not too much to ask

13 ... Unlucky for some, especially those missing centres. Matt Scott, Mark Bennett, Sam Johnson and Duncan Taylor have all suffered various accident damage and been unavailable, enough it would seem to justify Townsend trying various other permutations and combos at 12/13. For that quartet, there is everything in the spring and summer to play for

14 ... Means Tommy Seymour, and his hat-trick of tries against Fiji edged him, momentarily, ahead as leading (still active) try scorer. Impressive, but still some way off Tony Stanger who has 24. He might get there, although “legend” status might elude him

15 ... Stuart Hogg’s jersey, and little question that he remains the star turn with ball in hand. The soon-to-be Exeter man acts as such a boost for all concerned with Scotland that his inclusion is imperative. So, let us park all fitness worries going in to 2019. A fit and healthy Hoggy is key to a rich and prosperous New Year.