IT has come to something when the Tartan Army are fondly reminiscing about times when the failures of the national team were at least glorious. Now the expectation is of abject failure, and it is normally delivered.

For Andy Robertson, growing up as a supporter like thousands of other Scots of his generation, it is all he has known. He was just four the last time Scotland were at a major tournament, and he has felt every one of the disappointments since as keenly as any other fan. Now, those lows hurt even more as captain. It was written all over his face after the defeat to Russia on Friday night.

That failure to make it to a major tournament haunted men that wore the armband before Robertson, such as Darren Fletcher, with the main regret of his trophy-laden career being that he never led his country out on the big stage. Robertson is determined that won’t be him when the time comes to reflect on his own achievements.

“I remember one of my first squads and I was speaking to Darren Fletcher and he was desperate to end the run,” Robertson said.

“He had 80 caps, he was the captain, he was an unbelievable player who had won all the trophies with Manchester United. But the only thing he wanted was to end this run and get Scotland to a finals. Unfortunately, he didn’t manage it.

“For us, we don’t want to be in that position aged 34 or 35 and thinking about hanging up the boots and looking back and thinking: ‘what if?’

“I’ve had three campaigns that have been like this, but it needs to change - whether it’s this campaign or the next, we need to change it. The only way to do that is by performing on the pitch and unfortunately, we are not doing that right now.

“Even when I was growing up, we came close to qualifying, but everyone expected glorious failure. For my whole life, that’s been connected to Scotland.

“It’s up to our generation to change that. Generations before have spoken about it and tried to fix it, but we’ve not qualified for 20 years. For that time, squads have carried that burden - ‘It’s going to be glorious failure’.

“We haven’t managed to make the final step and we need to be the squad that does make it. It’s easier saying these words than actually going and doing it.

“You can feel the apathy,” he continued.

“When you look back at the second goal against Russia, as soon as we lost the ball most people inside the stadium thought ‘Goal’ or a big chance. That’s wrong. We gave the ball away at the halfway line and still had five lads back. We could have cut the ball out or got back in position quicker.

“We need to change the mentality that we think the worst is going to happen when we give away the ball, or there is a bit of pressure.

“When I was growing up, that wasn’t the feeling. Hampden was sold out then and you can batter on about it being half-empty now. But the fans won’t come back until we show something. That’s the state of affairs right now.

“It’s up to us - the manager and squad - to bring the fans back. Just now, people don’t want to watch Scotland and it’s up to us to change that.

“Hopefully everyone that was supporting Scotland back then can come back and we can unite the country through football.”

A hugely unexpected favourable result against Belgium tonight at Hampden would be a major step towards doing just that. Outside of the Scotland camp itself, perhaps no one believes they can manage such a feat, and Robertson knows that even inside the national squad, belief has been an issue.

Some frank words have been exchanged though over the weekend at their Dalmahoy base, and the captain hopes they will have had the desired galvanising effect. Otherwise, why turn up at all?

“We’re human beings, we need time to get over what happened on Friday night,” he said.

“I think Saturday allowed us to do that, we were able to talk to each other and now we just get on with it. We trained on Sunday with smiles back on our faces and our chests puffed out, and we’re good to go.

“Look, we’re not a team that is just going to paper over the cracks and say we played well but Russia were better, because we knew we didn’t play well. If we had played well, I do believe that we would have got a result on Friday. Too many of us didn’t quite do what we expect from ourselves first and foremost.

“A few of the boys that did speak after the game were spot on in everything that they said.

“We’ve all taken it on board.”