v Italy - 29 September, 2000 BST, Saint Etienne
Recent form: Scotland have had a quiet time of it since picking up the wooden spoon in the Six Nations, during which they recorded a single win at home to Wales. They beat Ireland in a World Cup warm-up but were second best, by a distance, to South Africa.
Coach: Frank Hadden was a promising footballer but chose rugby. The former teacher, 53, was appointed coach in 2005 and enjoyed a fantastic start to his tenure with wins over France and England - although things have been on the wane since then.
Captain: One of the hardest-hitting tacklers in the international game, Sale flanker Jason White is back after sitting out most of last season with a knee injury. Scottish fans hope he will be back with bang.
World Cup pedigree: They have always qualified from the pools, but invariably sink soon after.
World Cup high: The exception came in 1991 when they reached the semi-finals on home soil having seen off Western Samoa.
World Cup low: But then came the nightmare. Murrayfield against the Auld Enemy. Captain Gavin Hastings squirts the simplest of pot shots wide of the sticks and at the other end Rob Andrew lands a drop goal to edge England into the Twickenham final 9-6.
World Cup legend: That nightmare apart, Hastings has enjoyed a stellar time at the World Cup and is the competition's leading scorer with 227 points.
Present star: Gloucester-bound Chris Paterson stepped into the breach as skipper in White's absence and was Scotland's best player by far in the Six Nations. But where to play him? The dead-eye place kicker was at 15 in the winter, but slotted in at 10 for the first time in three-and-a-half years during the summer. That swap could prove crucial to his country's chances.
Maverick: Back-row forward Simon Taylor has a degree in law, although after spending so much of his career in the treatment room his inside knowledge of medical matters must be close to a degree level as well. He considered retirement in 2005 after yet another knee injury, but Hadden has hailed his "mental strength and fortitude".
Enforcer: White's murderous tackles are the stuff of legend and even in training team-mates are keen to avoid being the target of a thumping. "He is hitting hard but, thankfully, I've been in his team in a lot of training games," said giant lock Jim Hamilton of his skipper.
Strengths: They have some fine individuals who are being picked up by big clubs across Europe as the domestic scene disintegrates back home. When they click as a team Scotland can scare the best and White's return is a real boost.
Weaknesses: Their build-up has been besieged by turmoil in the domestic game which will have an unsettling effect on the squad, particularly among the Edinburgh players as their club are in a financial dispute with the SRU. There's also that fly-half debate and memories of a pitiful opening seven minutes against pool rivals Italy earlier in the year when they conceded three tries.
Did you know? The Scots had problems off the pitch at the last tournament when they were twice forced to move hotels, first to avoid a convention of bikers known as the 'Bandidos' and then to escape a drunken wedding reception.
World Cup base: L'Etrat (from 5 September)
They say: "The bare minimum for us - the absolute necessity - is to make the quarters. And I think it all changes once you get into the quarters If you're playing well then anything could happen." Chris Cusiter, scrum-half
You say: "Scotland are a far better side than they were in the 6N and will qualify behind New Zealand."
porridge_time on 606
World ranking: 10
Our verdict: The Italy game is massive. Lose that and Scottish rugby will be heading for the grave. Call the funeral director.
Ranking and odds correct at 26 August. Odds supplied by William Hill.