It would have been easy after Scotland’s thumping friendly defeat to The Netherlands on Friday evening for the manager and the players to roll out the weary, familiar platitudes that the Tartan Army have heard all too often.

After all, it was ‘only’ a friendly. And Scotland had actually played really well until around the 70th minute. They had more than matched the Dutch before the late substitutions led to that remarkable collapse in the closing stages.

But Steve Clarke, captain Andy Robertson and John McGinn, the men who faced the music afterwards, weren’t interested in excuses, or in any attempt to use the positives that could undoubtedly be gleaned from the first three quarters of the match to mask the negatives of what came next.

There was an acknowledgment of how well Scotland had played for long spells, of course. Of how their high press had forced errors from the normally unflappable Dutch. Of how comfortable the Scots looked in possession. How they had crafted numerous opportunities, some of them gilt-edged.

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But there was also very quickly an acknowledgment that they had blown each and every one of them, and how that is unacceptable at such a level if you want to have any hope of competing.

The emotions were evident on the faces of the players. And in their words. They were ‘angry’. Their defending towards the end was ‘unacceptable’. The final score was ‘embarrassing’. And the message was clear, it simply cannot happen again.

That is particularly the case at the European Championships, as Robertson alluded to. Perhaps nobody outside Scotland – and very few inside the country – will give them an earthly of beating host nation Germany in the opening match of the tournament in Munich. Particularly if they watched the Germans swatting France aside on their own Parisian patch on Saturday evening.

If they can play like they did in that opening 70 minutes in Amsterdam though, Scotland will surely give themselves half a chance of getting some sort of result. Perform as they did in the closing 20 or so, and they could put themselves out of the reckoning for qualification to the knockout stages altogether. Particularly in a group that looks to be so well-matched outside of the hosts.

Robertson said as much himself, and a telling line from both the skipper and from McGinn was their reference to this Scotland team having come so far since the days when such bruising defeats were par for the course, and rarely came with even the merest crumb of comfort in terms of performance.

It is impossible to argue that the national side under Steve Clarke isn’t unrecognisable from those dark days, but the sooner that they can break this current winless streak of six matches, the less anxious the manager, the players and the Tartan Army will be feeling ahead of the summer.

That record is skewed somewhat of course by the level of opposition that Scotland have been facing of late, but it was also refreshing to see that nobody within the camp was using that fact to excuse that form. After all, these are the level of sides they will be coming up against at times in Germany.

Scotland will now have the opportunity to flex their muscles a little in the next three games leading into the tournament, taking on Northern Ireland tomorrow night at Hampden and then Gibraltar and Finland in early June.

With the greatest of respect to those teams, Scotland must show that they have not only used their experiences over these last six games to bridge the gap to the teams at the top level, but nudged themselves further away from the international also-rans.

And they must also rebuild any lost confidence by winning them in some style, allowing them to board the plane with the belief that they aren’t just going onto the big stage to make up the numbers once again, as they ultimately did in the last Euros.

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That was forgiven somewhat by the Tartan Army given that the team had been the one to bring the two-decade-plus wait for qualification to a major tournament to an end, but another damp squib this time around would be much more harshly viewed.

What is reassuring is that the players seem to understand what is now required more than anyone. How seriously they have taken the lesson dished out to them by The Netherlands suggests they are determined that Scotland will never again be the laughing stock of international football.