Scotland go into the RBS 6 Nations campaign with high hopes that few fans would have imagined just a year ago.
When Frank Hadden took over as head coach following the disappointing Six Nations campaign in 2005, most Scottish rugby fans were simply looking for someone to stem the decline.
Australian Matt Williams had inspired his side to just one win in 10 matches in the tournament.
Amid a consensus that employing a foreign coach had failed, Dundee-born Hadden was handed the task of restoring Scotland's credibility.
But the former school teacher had more lofty ambitions.
The free-flowing Welsh side that won the grand slam that year furnished him with the belief that Scotland could challenge France and England with a similar style of rugby.
The game in Scotland faces more obstacles - the Scottish Rugby Union has debts of about £23million and professional clubs Glasgow, Edinburgh and Borders struggle to attract significant crowds.
But Hadden recognised these and pledged to rebuild interest in a sport firmly in the shadow of football.
He said: "It may be that our current position is a reflection of our current resources but we have a tremendous tradition in Scotland of over-achieving."
Hadden set about restoring that custom and tried to attract latent support by honing an expansive game that set his players free from the constraints of the Williams era.
His first game in May 2005 yielded a 38-7 win over the Barbarians that prompted Scott Murray to declare it the most enjoyable of his 67 caps.
His first autumn Test series saw victory over Samoa sandwiched by defeats to New Zealand and Argentina.
And few would have predicted the 20-16 triumph over France at Murrayfield in Hadden's first Six Nations match in charge last year.
A third-placed finish under a new coach will inevitably fuel hopes they can go further this time out.
Injuries have struck, however, and Scotland's Six Nations chances hinge on their luck on that front.
The inspirational Jason White will miss the entire campaign after suffering a serious knee injury against Romania.
The Scots' fortunes in November were summed up against the Aussies when winger Simon Webster was forced off with a leg injury after running the visitors ragged and notching a try as Scotland went 10-0 up in the opening stages.
However, Hadden has both experienced scrum-halves Chris Cusiter and Mike Blair sidelined by shoulder injuries for the start of the campaign and Nathan Hines, Ally Hogg and Scott Lawson were among those who sat out a recent training session.
Hadden has added George Graham and Alan Tait to his full-time backroom staff as he builds on his analytical approach - but his medical team could be the key to Scotland's chances.
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.