EUROPHORIA. A state of delirium whereby members of the Tartan Army falsely believed that Scotland had become an accomplished international team by deign of reaching Euro 2020.

This affliction, to be fair, befell most of the nation in those heady days last November, when Scotland fought their way through two play-off matches against Israel and Serbia – prevailing on penalties in both matches – to end our long wait for major tournament football.

Yes sir, we could boogie alright. And who could blame the players for getting on the cans after that historic night in Belgrade?

Never mind that Scotland had two shots at securing the one point they would need to claim a play-off spot for the World Cup through the Nations League immediately following that game, and never mind the fact we lost both to Slovakia and Israel by a goal to nil to blow that glorious opportunity. We were back, baby. And we still had the traditional qualification route to fall back on. Right?

Well, maybe not. Listen, it’s all very well to come over all pious after the fact when looking back to that open goal Scotland squandered. There weren’t many complaining at the time as videos of the players emerged from their hotel in the same state as the rest of us back home, least of all me.

These guys are human beings at the end of the day. Many of them have sacrificed a lot of time with their families chasing the dream of tournament qualification with Scotland, and were entitled to enjoy the moment.

The trouble is though, as Scotland are currently showing, it seems the national team aren’t quite good enough yet to reach major tournaments through a group where we are third seeds.

The Nations League may as well have been invented with Scotland in mind. We can’t on the one hand have the manager and players talking up their goal of making qualification for major tournaments a regular occurrence, and on the other hand be so dismissive of our most realistic chance of doing so.

That whole episode, in hindsight, exposed something of a small-time mentality. And I wonder if it is a regret for Steve Clarke now. We can talk all we like now about not wanting to wait another two decades to be back at a tournament, but when we had a golden chance to immediately secure back-to-back play-offs, we failed to give ourselves the best opportunity of doing so.

That is in the past though, as are the European Championships, which were enjoyable and emotional for all who play for and support Scotland after so long away from the party. It is fair to say though that it was also more than a little disappointing on the field, where the creditable performance and draw against England at Wembley was the one solace from a pretty underwhelming attempt at getting out of what was admittedly a tough section.

Still, the nation was once again engaged and enthused about the Scotland team in large numbers. Clarke and his players deserve enormous credit for that, but as the manager himself knows, the residual goodwill from qualification won’t last forever. Indeed, it has already started to wane.

After the disastrous first half showing against Denmark on Wednesday night which led to an eventual 2-0 defeat, Scotland have now won just one of their last nine competitive fixtures in 90 minutes. And that was against the Faroe Islands.

Clarke’s selections and tactics are being questioned, not least of all his starting line-up in Copenhagen during the week, where he responded to a problem on the right flank by creating about three more along the backline.

That he remedied the error of playing captain Andy Robertson on the right and Ryan Fraser as a quasi-target man at the interval is all well and good, but the improved showing of Scotland which that produced was immaterial by that stage. And it is far from the first time that the national team coach has had cause to shuffle his pack mid-match after making errors with his starting selections.

Clarke is an accomplished coach, a good manager, and was the right man for the Scotland job at the time. Having just signed a contract extension until the end of Euro 2024, he isn’t going anywhere barring a calamitous run in the forthcoming fixtures.

He still enjoys a place in the favours of the public and most of the press too due to his achievements, and that is only right. But he will come under scrutiny if this run continues, and his team show no signs of improvement from their current low ebb.

The good news is that there is still a chance to salvage a World Cup play-off spot from here, but Clarke and his side could do with an emphatic win over Moldova on Saturday night, and must avoid defeat in Vienna on Tuesday, to keep the dream alive.

The former is crucially important not only to inject a bit of life into our hopes of making Qatar, but to inject a bit of enthusiasm back into the Scotland support.

Yes, Moldova are hardly a draw for the public, but at the time of writing there is little danger of the match threatening to sell out.

This is the first Scotland match that fans have been allowed into without restrictions for a year and a half. It is on a Saturday night, at Hampden. The SFA, to their credit, have kept prices low, with kids allowed in for a fiver. If we can’t scare up a near capacity crowd in these circumstances, alarm bells should be ringing.

The Europhoria has worn off. Clarke now needs to inspire some World Cup fever, or risk losing the Tartan Army once more.