There's no sugar-coating it, Friday was a dreadful performance from the Scotland national team.

Steve Clarke's boys were outplayed, outthought, outrun and, most unforgivably, outfought by their opponents. It may have been against host nation Germany, a formidable foe well-versed in excelling at major tournaments, but it was still inexcusable. Scotland were far too passive from the off. They looked overawed by the occasion and didn't play their usual game.

It wasn't just the performance that left concerns about our Euro 2024 hopes. The result did too as a four-goal defeat already places Scotland at a significant disadvantage. Goal difference will likely decide which of the four third-place teams will advance from the group stages to the last 16. If Scotland lose Wednesday's clash against Switzerland by a single goal, they would realistically require something in the region of a 4-0 victory over Hungary in the final game to qualify for the next stage. Seeing as this team can only score four goals combined in 180 minutes against Gibraltar and Finland, that feels a little unlikely.

The Swiss were previously fancied to be the team Scotland would better at this tournament if they were going to play above their speed and finish in the top three of the group. They are a squad going through something of a transition period with their more established names getting older and a younger generation started to come through, but they were mightily impressive against Hungary. Tournament dark horses coming in, Hungary too fell well short of expectations as, barring a 15-minute period where Switzerland took their foot off the accelerator, they were inferior right across the park from the first minute to the last.

Many Scots watching on wanted a draw. It would've given Scotland the best chance of finishing above both of them (behind Germany) and therefore not having to worry about what other nations are doing in the days following our final group game against the Hungarians. While that probably would've been best, a Swiss win was the preferable outcome if someone was going to take three points. Otherwise, Scotland could have found themselves in a situation where they'd be playing a team on Wednesday fighting to remain in the tournament. Instead, it's against a side who, as their performance while 2-0 up against Hungary demonstrated, are happy to settle if the situation presents itself. They also draw a lot of matches. Such a result would be enough for them to qualify after just two games, while it would keep Scotland in the tournament for the time being.

However, we shouldn't have the mindset of 'four points is enough'. We have both the talent and the evidence from some big results in recent years to believe we can win each of these remaining group games. For that to happen there needs to be a serious bounce back from Clarke and his players. Do they have it in them?

A disastrous Euros in which we take one or zero points from the three games, having been embarrassed in at least one of them, would have many fans turning on the national team boss. It doesn't matter how fair or unfair that would be. In football, supporters always want their team to be moving forward. Clarke became the first manager since Craig Brown to get us to an international tournament, and then showed it wasn't a fluke by finishing second to Spain in a tough qualifying group for these championships. But two first-round exits at the Euros will naturally lead to the wonder that he's taken us as far as he can. For this writer, dispensing with his services would be a tremendous gamble unless the Scottish FA are ready to spend big on his replacement (mmmm... seems unlikely). Clarke has shown at West Brom, Kilmarnock and now Scotland that he is a very good manager. Replacing that isn't going to be easy, even if things have gone stale recently.

The good news is that we have prior evidence with this team and manager that we do have what it takes to bounce back this Wednesday and get a huge three points which will put us on the brink of qualification.

Even through a period of sustained success, relatively speaking, we've still endured some dreadful performances and results in the Clarke era. A poor showing at the Euros – the draw at Wembley aside – then bled into the next qualification campaign where we were lucky to escape with just a 2-0 defeat in what was a thorough skelping at the hands of Denmark. Having drawn with Austria at Hampden and Israel away before the Euros, this left us in something of a precarious situation in our hopes of getting to the play-offs at least for the 2022 World Cup. Yet we recovered, beat Austria 1-0 away a few days later and went on a run of six victories and two draws from eight games to finish runners-up in another tough qualifying group.

The same happened again after the disappointing play-off exit to Ukraine was followed by the horrendous 3-0 Nations League defeat in Ireland. Again, questions were asked of Clarke, but again the team responded. We won eight, drew one and lost one (a friendly in Turkey) of the next ten games. This took us both to the top tier of the Nations League and qualification for these Euros.
Clarke had six days (and a match with Moldova) between the aforementioned Denmark and Austria games in which to fix his broken side. This team has just five. And there's a lot which needs to be addressed.

Not only does the manager have to ensure we go into the next encounter with a completely different mindset, we also have to make some tactical tweaks. Without Aaron Hickey down the right-hand side, our approach looked quite predictable and easy to stop against the Germans. Essentially, they placed emphasis on crowding Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney, believing Anthony Ralston wouldn't hurt them on the opposite flank with the extra space. That will be easily replicable going forward.

You could say it's time to rip up the 3-4-3 system which has served us so well, but there's not much time to work on an alternative shape. We also don't really have any wide players to play in a 4-3-3 variation and we didn't look convincing defensively when we played with a back four in the draws with Georgia and Norway. Regardless of shape, Billy Gilmour seems a cert to come back in, while it wouldn't be a surprise to see Lawrence Shankland get the nod over Che Adams. There will be a freshening up of the starting XI, we just have to hope that, with the players missing through injury and confidence at rock bottom, it isn't a case of simply shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

It's a precarious state of affairs and after Friday it is easy, and justified, to feel pessimistic about our chances. But Clarke and the players have responded very well in the past and therefore it would be foolish to write them off before our crunch encounter in Dusseldorf.