Wales can unleash the beast
IT will be quite like old times at Murrayfield tomorrow, with spare tickets as rare as confirmed sightings of the Loch Ness monster and the locals believing in their team once again.
Take a bow, Scott Johnson?
Let's not be premature.
Scotland have the reigning Six Nations champions to face this weekend and France to tackle in Paris in eight days' time.
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If they are still dancing on the streets of Hawick on Sunday week, then it might be permissible to talk about a tartan resurgence.
But let's see how the final two rounds of championship games go.
Johnson hasn't been especially comfortable with the idea of everyone rushing to anoint him as the first Australian king of Scotland.
But the facts are these: the sold-out signs are up in Edinburgh and 67,114 souls will squeeze into Murrayfield for a date with Wales, evoking memories of classic battles between the two countries.
There have been whispers about a golden generation of Scottish players and even talk of an improbable Six Nations title should England slip up.
Nor should we forget that Glasgow are leading the Pro12 league.
At this rate, Rangers and Celtic will soon have to play second fiddle to Johnson and Co in the Glasgow Herald.
Easy, tiger. But it's fair to say there is a feelgood factor sweeping the Scottish game and the challenge for Wales this weekend will be to test the strength of it.
It isn't as if they don't know how to beat Scotland.
Indeed, if they succeed on Saturday it will be their sixth win in a row over the Dark Blues. Impressive? Just a bit.
The last time Wales won more than five consecutive games against the Scots was between 1908 and 1914 when they triumphed seven times in a row.
Lloyd George was chancellor of the exchequer at the time, Charlie Chaplin was launching his Hollywood career and the average wage was 16 shillings and nine pence a week. Welsh rugby stars of the day included the Reverend Jenkin Alban Davies, leader of a pack who were dubbed the Terrible Eight, and not because they were in any way hopeless.
There have been plenty of terrible Welsh packs since, hopeless ones at that, but Robin McBryde's forwards this weekend are a long way from fitting that description.
Six of those on duty tomorrow started for the Ospreys in the Pro12 final in Dublin last year, and Toby Faletau and Sam Warburton are not exactly slouches alongside them.
They will be facing an eight whose territory and possession stats suggest the opposition have wiped the floor with them in every game this campaign, or at the very least sprayed them with Mr Muscle floor cleaner.
Things reached a nadir on the stats front last time out when the Scots won just 29 per cent possession and enjoyed only 23 per cent territory against Ireland. It was almost like trying to win a boxing match without throwing punches.
It was a similar tale against England and Italy, too.
On the surface, such figures should make Johnson want to leap off Forth Bridge without delay.
But the Scots have two wins in the championship to date and are drinking their whisky laced with optimism.
They have been particularly impressive without the ball, soaking up pressure before going upfield and claiming points.
Their style is unlikely to change too much this weekend, and nor is Wales's, but the Welsh selection might have raised a few eyebrows, with Johnson a big admirer of Justin Tipuric, who has had to make way for Warburton.
Rob Howley justified the move on the basis of the Blues player's work at the breakdown, with the challenge expected to be a seriously physical one in Edinburgh.
But have Scotland morphed into South Africa while we've all had our backs turned? Will the challenge they pose be massively different from anything else in international rugby?
Tipuric isn't exactly ordinary at the breakdown, anyway, and Scotland- Wales matches are usually loose affairs which would suit him down to the ground.
You just wonder at the fairness of it all. Warburton now has an opportunity to advance his case for the Lions this summer, while Tipuric will have to sell himself from the bench.
Was it really worth disrupting a back row that had gelled over the past two games?
Certainly, there will be some who see it as needless tinkering, but performances settle all arguments and Wales will hope Warburton delivers.
His battle with Kelly Brown should be worth the ticket price on its own.
Brown has had a superb Six Nations, putting in more tackles (43) and achieving more turnovers (seven) than any of his rivals. In terms of stats, there isn't a No. 7 in the championship who has been close to him.
The openside clash is one of several key duels that could have implications for Lions selection, with Alun Wyn Jones and Ian Evans going up against Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton, Toby Faletau opposing Johnnie Beattie, and Richard Hibbard locking horns with Ross Ford.
Behind the scrum, Mike Phillips will look to score points off Greig Laidlaw, George North and Alex Cuthbert will aim to eclipse Sean Maitland and Tim Visser, and Leigh Halfpenny will be desperate to compare favourably to Stuart Hogg in perhaps the most intriguing head-to-head of the lot.
But for all the spice of those individual contests, the collective effort is likely to prove more important to the outcome — and in that respect Wales, with their Ospreys axis up front, will hope to have an edge.
Theoretically, they should have the cohesion of a regional pack in a Test environment.
Scotland know what's coming, as evidenced by Johnson's comment this week that he hadn't seen anything different from Wales in five years.
For all the indignation that remark generated in these parts, he did have a point there.
Wales haven't developed their game much under this regime.
It is still all about the bludgeon: a strong scrum, a hard-working back five and the most physically imposing backline ever seen in the Six Nations.
Romantics, or those who like to see their rugby served with a side order of flair, will watch on uncomfortably from their overpriced seats.
Nostalgia buffs will simply relish this fixture because it evokes so many memories, among them John Taylor's conversion to clinch a 19-18 win in 1971, a crowd of 104,000 packing in to Murrayfield in 1975 and Phil Bennett scoring a vintage try two years later that defined Welsh flair in the 1970s.
How much would we all give for something to savour tomorrow.
Scotland will hope it comes from their back three of Hogg, Maitland and Visser, but the question for them is whether they have a Test class operator at No. 10.
Wales may be more about power but they have pace out wide with North and Cuthbert and have shown this season they can take chances.
They may not be the prettiest side in the world, but marks are not given for artistic impression in the Six Nations.
Beauty is taking a holiday in Welsh rugby.
Let the beast do its work.