As Patrik Schick's ridiculous halfway-line strike looped over a despairing David Marshall there was a feeling of inevitability as Scotland struggled upon their return to a major tournament for the first time in 23 years.

It was gut-wrenching, it was a total suckerpunch and in a flash, the tournament was all but over.

Those 9,000 fans lucky enough, or unlucky enough, to be inside Hampden for the Euro 2020 fixture witnessed an introduction to the international stage take a nosedive.

In theatrical terms, it was opening night of a much-anticipated release which seriously failed to deliver. We simply fluffed our lines.

A slight redemption to take a draw against England at Wembley clawed back some pride but bowing out with a 3-1 defeat to the Croatia meant little impact was made.

The disappointment felt by those glued to TV screens around the country and those within the confines of a socially-distanced national stadium was not lost on the players or management.

It's not all too often that missed opportunities are raised ahead of a historic moment - with booming optimism the mood music amongst the ballpark 200,000 Scottish supporters in Germany - but a reflective Andy Robertson cited the lacklustre showings last time at a major tournament ahead of tonight's must-watch viewing.

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He stated: “In the last Euros we played well in getting a draw at Wembley, but we let ourselves down a bit in the other two games. We know we could have done better."

In Munich tonight, Scotland will re-introduce themselves to the international stage at the grand opening fixture of the 2024 European Championships - and the circumstances could not be more different.

The jubilant scenes of the Tartan Army packing pubs and streets in Germany alone show the stark difference in society with the world eased from the grasp of a global pandemic.

There is well-deserved optimism despite the scale of the task facing Steve Clarke and his charges in a group featuring the hosts, Hungary and Switzerland.

Scotland are a far cry from a side unable to deliver on the big occasion or limited in their style forcing archaic, defensive football lacking the cutting edge to make a splash.

Take Robertson's pre-match press conference as an example of the confidence coursing through the veins of the Scotland squad ahead of the curtain lifting at Euro 2024.

“We all know how quickly a tournament can go by you, so we have to make the most of the opportunity we have here," said the national team captain.

“We want to make history. We know what’s at stake. What’s the worst that can happen? We join the list of Scotland teams who haven’t got out of a group?

“We have so many incentives here, but becoming a legendary squad is the biggest. That’s what has to drive us forward. The thought of being the first Scotland team to make a knockout round is our driving force. If we manage that? You just never know."

Those are not the words of a player dreading a humbling defeat or anxious to get the first match over with credibility still in the bank.

Robertson, and his team-mates, truly believe something special is possible in Germany this summer, and why not? 

Okay, the Euros passed us by in 2021 with few moments of celebration. We had the joyous moment of qualification and experienced mixing it on the big stage once more after a long overdue wait.

This time, just being there isn't enough. You'd be forgiven for accepting a spot in the Euros for a second successive campaign, it's no small feat, particularly given our past absence.

However, this time there is a different expectation. We've made it again and there is now a chance to make a dent on the competition and properly re-introduce Scotland to major tournaments.

That goes beyond what happens on the pitch. For too long, it has been the hurting Tartan Army often lauded for their fantastic support but never rewarded beyond a pat on the head from host nations.

The tournament hasn't even kicked off yet but already Germany has felt the incredible atmosphere of Scottish supporters. In many ways, this is our first proper return in full fashion after the Euros-lite three years ago.

It is no longer a hurting Tartan Army there to enjoy the journey, celebrate the highlights and groan at the all too inevitable disappointment - all while downing pints at the local fountain.

Now, Scotland head into a tournament out for blood. In the same fashion that we've traded our pint glasses for steins, our all-too-familiar pessimism has been traded in for excitement and expectation.

READ MORE: Andy Robertson outlines Scotland plan to make Euros history

Our lesser known heroes have flooded the streets with fabulous scenes evidencing why such a lofty reputation is enjoyed by the Tartan Army wherever they travel.

The onus is now onto those 11 players, and subs, who pull on the Scotland shirt at the Munich Football Arean tonight. 

It's time for heroes to really put Scotland back on the map. We've had the dress rehearsal in 2021, now we have to deliver as we make our true first impression back on the big stage.

Clarke and his squad have been cast in a starring role in Euro 2024 already with their involvement opening the tournament, we cannot afford to be overawed by the scene.

Euro 2024 for Scotland won't be won or lost by the result against Germany but the level of performance shown could either cast us as a serious threat or also-rans.

The belief is there, the talent is there and the opportunity is there to make an impact. Scotland just have to take it.