NOT every meeting between the Scottish and UK Government is a showdown. Most, held without fanfare or comment, are perfectly cordial, professional encounters.

There can be friction, of course. When Nicola Sturgeon and her Brexit minister Michael Russell left Number 10 last October after talks with Theresa May, their anger at the UK Government’s lack of Brexit planning was clear.

But for the most part, despite very different goals and ideals, the two governments rub along.

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Yet Brexit, as the country’s biggest political upheaval of modern times and the possible axis on which another independence referendum might turn, can still surprise.

It was doubtless with some trepidation therefore that Damian Green, the First Secretary of State and the effective deputy Prime Minister, arrived at St Andrew’s House yesterday.

Across the table from him and Scottish Secretary David Mundell were Mr Russell and deputy First Minister John Swinney, neither of whom has a reputation for mincing their words.

The Brexit minister had telegraphed his position with a typically fiery overnight statement warning that Westminster should not attempt any “power grab” when powers are repatriated from Brussels after Brexit, as to do so would undermine the whole devolution settlement.

Westminster had its eye on more than 100 devolved policy areas due at Holyrood, he added. Mr Russell’s point is based on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which says all powers exercised at EU level, including those in devolved areas, should initially go to Westminster after Brexit.

Some would be forwarded to Holyrood, but others shared across the UK in “common frameworks”, to avoid a patchwork of laws could disrupt the UK’s internal market.

The meeting was to start identifying which powers would go where. In the past, the Scottish Government has adopted an absolutist stance on this.

The First Minister’s spokesman recently said every conceivable aspect of agriculture and fisheries should be run from Edinburgh, despite the objection of farming and fishing groups.

The Scottish Government’s position is now more nuanced. Some UK-wide frameworks are acceptable, provided they are negotiated not “imposed”.

As it was an initial face-to-face between Mr Green and the Scottish ministers, it would be wrong to expect great movement from either side.

But that does not mean it was an angry failure, far from it. Mr Russell did not highlight 100 devolved policy areas by accident. It was a starting figure he wants whittled down.

Mr Swinney and Mr Mundell are old hands at this, having haggled their way through the Smith Commission on greater devolution and the resulting fiscal framework.

It will be a long grind but, despite the lively rhetoric, there are wise heads involved, and success remains attainable.