SCOTLAND head for Cardiff on a years-long losing streak. The have an athletic but slightly lightweight pack, counterbalanced by pace and a real attacking threat in the backs. Can this be the time they break that drought? They think so.

Sounds familiar? It should. While time will tell if it applies to the team that runs out in Cardiff, this afternoon, it definitely applied to the last team to end a long losing streak at the home of Welsh rugby; the 1982 side that broke a 20-year duck and set Scotland on the road to glory with a win in Twickenham the following season and a Grand Slam the season after that.

The strange thing is that for all the magic of that five-try thrashing, it was a game that swung 180 degrees on a single move, flanker Jim Calder finishing a sparking counter attack started by Roger Baird, the wing, in his own 22.

“It’s so long ago it’s hard to remember exactly the impact it had,” Calder reflects now. “We had prepared well for the game but we were a surprise packet. Wales were used to beating Scotland at Cardiff and probably did not expect what unfolded.

“It was pretty close the first 10 or 15 minutes when Roger collected that bounce from a kick by Gareth Davies and took off. Thankfully the rest is history. We scored then, scored again and ended out winning five tries to one. We surprised ourselves a wee bit but certainly surprised the opposition and what a great bit of confidence it gave us for other games.”

The 34-18 scoreline is still Scotland’s best result in Cardiff – in those days, before the Principality Stadium was built, games were staged in the National Stadium at Cardiff Arms Park – and set the side on that path to greatness.

It all hinged on one move. Davies ignored players outside him and kicked into the Scots 22. Baird took off up the touchline, finding No8 Iain Paxton in support to take the ball into the Welsh 22. When he was caught, Alan Tomes, the lock, was in support, almost reaching the line before his offload put Calder over. Suddenly, from being the dominant team, Wales collapsed.

As Calder points out, it had been slowly coming together for a couple of years, starting with a development trip to France two years before.

“Then in 1981 we had the chance to go on tour to New Zealand, which was a real tough tour but a great formative experience, especially for the younger element,” he recalled of the trip where they lost both Tests but felt they had chances to win each.

“We then came together with the likes of Any Irvine and Jim Renwick. John Rutherford was an experienced player by then along with the likes of David Leslie. The younger brigade came through to join the slightly older ones.

“Playing these games with these men, you knew you had people who could stand toe to toe with anyone whether you were at Cardiff, Twickenham or Eden Park. That was a tremendous feeling plus we probably had the best coach in the world at the time in Jim Telfer. That made a huge difference. In those amateur days it was possible to be more prepared than the opposition and Scotland were better prepared during that period, the early 80s through to early 90s.”

There are parallels to today’s mission in Cardiff – the team growing over a couple of seasons, that narrow, competitive defeat to New Zealand and the confidence that they don’t have to win the possession battle to win the game.

Calder said: “That is one thing that is so good about the modern team, they do have that confidence that befits the abilities of the players they have. 

“It is not over-confidence but you need the Hoggs, Russells, Ali Price and the like to really perform.”