After a potentially chastening afternoon in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend seemed unwavering in his commitment to high-octane, high-risk rugby as the way forward for his side.

That in spite of having just watched them undermine their own bid to match last season’s achievement in making a winning start to a championship and to set new standards by doing so away from home – two things Scotland have found excruciatingly difficult to do in the Six Nations era.

Scrum-half Ali Price, the dashing Glasgow Warriors youngster who was preferred at scrum-half to Greig Laidlaw – the man who has captained Scotland more than any other – was the initial culprit, throwing the intercepted pass that let opposite number Gareth Davies run in the opening try, then subsequently penalised for a squint scrum put-in that handed Wales the attacking position from which they scored their second. 

Somehow, the fact that Leigh Halfpenny’s try was his first in 38 Test matches, on a day when he would go on to score another, only seemed to accentuate the failings in Scotland’s defence. 

It subsequently seemed much more just that Wales would go on to register a bonus point when a counter-attack released Steff Evans on the left, than that the defeated team managed to avoid being nilled when Peter Horne nipped in for a last-minute try from a close-range ruck. 

That Evans try was the result of another turn-over, Finn Russell intercepted that time on a day when Rhys Patchell, a player largely overlooked by his national selectors, who has been playing more at full-back lately for the Scarlets and was making his first Test start at fly-half, gave Racing 92’s big money signing something of a lesson in how to run a game.

Nor were Scotland’s half-backs helped by what had looked strange selection gambles in the back-line which gave the impression that Townsend’s eagerness to avoid predictability had once again been a driving factor. 

The previously free-scoring Huw Jones had been shifted in-field to accommodate Chris Harris, while, after what was admittedly a sensational Test debut in unlikely circumstances against Australia, Byron McGuigan was preferred to players with far greater experience. 

Such decisions can, of course, be justified when introducing extraordinary talent, but these are players who have taken a long time to catch the eye of national selectors and, while they may yet prove solid squad members, they performed much more like the Test novices they are.

The collective response to going behind was, then, to seek to play with ever more urgency, giving the impression of seeking to score off every play rather than show any patience in trying to do the necessary groundwork, the result being repeated, pressure relieving mistakes, repeatedly taking any  pressure off their hosts, while failing to generate any real momentum of their own.

Yet, when asked if Scotland needed to understand the need to temper their ambitions at times, Townsend uttered a frustrated sounding sigh before replying: “Look, there’s a part of the game that maybe we went too wide at times, but ultimately that was one element. Other elements were that we lost ball at contact, made defensive errors, didn’t win the ball at the lineout. 

“So, you can’t say look we’re running from our own line, that’s why we lost today. There are times when we have to go forward and narrow a defence, give our forwards easier targets, but that’s the way we play. Today wasn’t really a true representation of how we play in attack and how accurate we can be and how good these players can be.”

The phrase “that’s the way we play,” suggests an adherence to policy, rather than championing the sort of understanding that frequently stylish Ireland have of the need to play to the situation in order, as they and their provinces so often do, to find a way to win, which they managed to achieve without scoring a try in Paris later on Saturday.

Few, if any, virtues cannot be pursued to a fault and, particularly when applied in conjunction with the compulsive risk taking that has always been the coach’s trademark, when it comes to the power of positive thinking, Townsend and his management team may be in danger of doing that.

Its greatest threat to development is that its advocates can develop a tendency to view anything counter to the attitudes they espouse as being, by definition, negative and therefore something to be dismissed.

Ideally, they may now reflect on how England coach Eddie Jones poked fun at the praise heaped upon Scotland following an autumn in which they narrowly beat Samoa, while defending poorly, played well but lost to New Zealand and then heavily defeated Australia, but only took the lead and went on to dominate after their opponents were reduced to 14 men.

On Saturday there was, too, further evidence that more worldly coaches have been irked by the adulation heaped upon the Scots’ cavalier approach when Warren Gatland, the Wales and two-time British & Irish Lions coach, indicated that he had been pleased to have Scotland at home on the first weekend because it was a chance to get off to a good start and, in defiance of every pundit’s pre-match view, that he had predicted a 20-point win for his side on the eve of the game. 

His sometimes more prosaic approach has often been derided as “Warren-ball”, but he has won three Six Nations titles with Wales and been unbeaten in two Test series as Lions coach because he is an extremely shrewd operator who has a keen sense of when to take risks and when not to.

In that regard Scotland have a great deal of work to do in terms of getting the balance right and, while it would be understandable if an element of naivete has been exposed in the first Six Nations match under this management team’s charge, they must now be ready to learn very quickly, rather than merely reinforcing themselves in their collected conviction.