Ross Ford insists Scotland are not looking at their RBS 6 Nations meeting with Italy as a wooden-spoon decider despite both countries losing their opening two games.
The last two years have seen the destiny of rugby’s most notorious booby prize come down to this particular fixture, with Scotland lumbered with the dubious honour in 2007 before only narrowly avoiding it again last year.
All the indications so far from this season’s RBS 6 Nations are that the usual suspects will be involved again in the battle to avoid finishing bottom of the final standings.
But Edinburgh hooker Ford refuses to view the clash at Murrayfield a week on Saturday simply as an opportunity to save face.
He said: “You don’t look at it like that at all. We’ve still got three games that we can win, so that’s what we’re going out to do, try to win these next three games, starting with Italy on Sunday. That’s our main objective now.”
Scotland became the first country to lose a Six Nations home game to Italy thanks to a suicidal opening six minutes in the corresponding fixture two years ago.
After their comprehensive defeat to Grand Slam champions Wales just over a week ago, it seemed perfectly possible lightning could strike twice this season.
But a vastly-improved display in France on Saturday has lifted some of the gloom.
Ford said: “It was hard getting over that first week but on Saturday I think we performed a little bit better and showed some of what we can do.
“But it’s still not a win yet and there’s more to come.”
Ford insists improving on the performance in Paris must be the minimum requirement when the Azzurri come to town.
“What we showed in France I think has got to be our baseline and from there we’ve got to get better,” Ford said.
“The execution of some things needs to be more clinical and we also need to finish off our chances.”