Given Scotland’s recent history, it’s only fitting that picking a team to beat Israel in the Nations League play-offs requires a lorryload of wishful thinking.
Steve Clarke’s men are seeking to end a 22-year wait to play in a major Finals, during which fans have seen hopes, dreams and expectations crushed again and again.
Tartan Army veterans talk tongue-in-cheek of Scotland always coming up with new ways to torment, and certainly missing out on Euro 2020 would deliver its own type of agony.
Glasgow is one of a dozen cities selected to host the Euros’ 60th birthday celebrations.
If Scotland can get past first the Israelis, then either Norway or Serbia, they would play a couple of their group games on home soil – likely against Portugal and France – with the other against England at Wembley.
It is a tremendous incentive.
First, of course, they have to win their way there.
Anyone who was present at Scotland’s 2-2 draw with England in the World Cup qualifiers two years ago will testify to the incredible atmosphere inside Hampden Park that day.
And this is where the wishful thinking comes in because, if fit, there would be no better man to lead the attack against Israel than the one who curled home two stunning free-kicks against the English – Leigh Griffiths.
After six months out of the game to deal with mental-health issues, the 29-year-old is currently battling his way back to match sharpness.
Celtic skipper Scott Brown – who sparked speculation he might yet be in dark blue again himself – says his return would be a “great boost”, not just for his club but also his country.
He is not wrong.
It is to be hoped that by March 26, Griffiths will be much more like his old-self again. And the hard-working Steven Naismith would be the perfect foil.
Elsewhere we can but hope for the continued form of David Marshall in goal, and the amazing energy of John McGinn – scorer of a startling seven goals in his last six games for Scotland – James Forrest, who hit a hat-trick in the victory over Israel, and, of course, Andy Robertson.
Steve Clarke hasn’t yet had the luxury of having to tackle the conundrum of how to fit the Champions League winner and Arsenal £25-million defender, Kieran Tierney, into the same side.
A 3-5-2 formation, with Tierney as the left-sided defender and Robertson ahead of him as an advanced wing-back is a solution.
Tierney’s pace would help cover Scott McKenna and impressive new boy, Declan Gallagher, who could also count on the solid midfield base of Scott McTominay and Callum McGregor in front of him.
It is a line-up minus a trio of unlucky Ryans – Christie, Jack and Fraser. They would all be on the bench, between them ready to offer cover in a wide variety of positions.
With the Final away to either Norway or Serbia, qualifying will not be straightforward.
But then, when it comes to Scotland, nothing ever is.