There was something very formulaic about post-match press conferences in the 1980s.

The losing captain, still wearing his playing strip, would shuffle in, mumble a greeting to the assembled pressmen and wait for the first question.

Which would, almost invariably, concern any injuries his side had suffered. It was a gentle ice-breaker before the more searching inquisition, and it generally elicited a vague and non-committal response concerning two or three players.

At least that’s how things usually worked. But in February 1986, when England captain Nigel Melville sat down in what was laughably called the Murrayfield press room – in reality, more of a broom cupboard in the bowels of the old west stand - to deliver his thoughts after that year’s Calcutta Cup match, his litany of casualties went on so long that some of us started to worry about hitting our newspaper deadlines.

Blindside flanker John Hall had a broken thumb. Openside Peter Winterbottom needed stitches in a face wound. Full-back Huw Davies had a shoulder injury. Fly-half Rob Andrew and both his centres had damaged ribs.

The two wingers, Simon Smith and Mike Harrison had leg knocks. Melville had been dazed at one point while everyone else seemed to be carrying bruises.

Tentatively, someone suggested that such a lengthy medical bulletin reflected a certain, er, robustness in the way Scotland had played. “No,” Melville replied. Scotland had played hard, but fair. “It was just that we were having to do all the tackling.”

It was as good an assessment of as astonishing match as any. Scotland had beaten England 33-6, still their record margin in the fixture, and they had done it with a degree of control that was complete, comprehensive, and arguably more emphatic than any of their performances in the Grand Slam years of 1984 and 1990. In that celebrated era, this really was Scotland’s finest hour.

Scotland Rugby News: England's Peter Winterbottom wrestles with Scotland's Colin DeansEngland's Peter Winterbottom wrestles with Scotland's Colin Deans (Image: Getty Images)

Moreover, it was an outcome that would have been inconceivable at the end of the previous year’s Five Nations championship, when Scotland had suffered a humiliating whitewash.

Clearly, there was an urgent need to rebuild the national team, a need answered with uncharacteristic boldness by the Scottish selectors ahead of the 1986 tournament.

For the opening match, against France, they named six debutants, with Gavin and Scott Hastings, David Sole and Finlay Calder among the newcomers.

Scotland edged past France, 18-17, with Gavin Hastings landing a record six penalties. They followed up that tentative start by losing to Wales in Cardiff, 15-22, their luckless afternoon encapsulated by the monstrous penalty Wales full-back Paul Thorburn struck from 70 yards.

Even so, there was a powerful feeling that Scotland had started to pull something together in those early weeks of 1986, something that would be unleashed with unstoppable force against England.

The Scots, coached by the quietly brilliant Derrick Grant, still had a core of excellence from their 1984 clean sweep in players like Roy Laidlaw, John Rutherford, Colin Deans and Iain Milne.

The Hastings brothers, Sole and Calder brought a new dynamism to the team. Of the 15 starters, 11 had been or would become Lions.

The Lions contingent included the entire back row of Calder, John Jeffrey and John Beattie. That trio dominated the game in a gleeful rampage that left their leaden opponents gasping in their wake.

Scotland Rugby News: Finlay Calder on the run for ScotlandFinlay Calder on the run for Scotland (Image: SNS)

There was something quite merciless about it all, as if years of pent-up fury were being unleashed in just 80 minutes.

Actually, make that 40. Scotland looked by far the better side throughout the first half, but their interval lead was just 12-6. Gavin Hastings had kicked all Scotland’s points with four penalties, but if Andrew had been more accurate with his kicking then England might even have been ahead at that point.

Even so, there was a powerful sense ahead of the second period that England were hanging on by their fingertips.

Their grip would not last long. From the off, Scotland cranked up the pace and intensity for a second-half onslaught in which England failed to score a single point.

In fact, the Scots were 21-6 in front before England were awarded another penalty – and even that was deep in their own half.

They were, by any measure, a spent force, their only remaining purpose being to limit the damage on the scoreboard.

In that, they had only limited success. Scotland claimed their first try early in the half when Beattie and Calder drove round the fringe at a scrum, Deans and Rutherford kept the momentum going and Laidlaw broke to the blind side, feeding Gavin Hastings to put Matt Duncan over for the score.

The second was delivered by Rutherford, who took a pass from his compadre Laidlaw and cut a wicked inside line that bamboozled four English defenders.

The third, deep into injury time, came when England turned the ball over deep in the Scots’ half, Roger Baird scooped it up and raced away. Beattie and Calder carried on, with Jeffrey delivering the pass that gave Scott Hastings the concluding score.

Scotland went on to beat Ireland 10-9 in their final match, giving them three wins out of four in the championship.

However, although they had beaten the French in their opening game, it was the French who ultimately took the title, albeit on points difference alone.