The failure to beat the smaller nation of New Zealand in 31 Test meetings spread over 112 years may be one of the most galling statistics in sport, but rarely has Scotland got under All Black skin more than on the current captain’s debut a decade ago.

Johnnie Barclay was part of a make-shift team that met the tournament favourites in the pool stages at the 2007 World Cup and there was nothing all that remarkable about the 40-0 thrashing they suffered. However, for all that he only partially remembers it this way, the young flanker was generally deemed to have out-played his opposite number in defeat who was on his way to re-writing the international record books as he made his mark on a day the New Zealanders felt undermined their preparations for the knockout stages where they were to suffer a shock defeat to France.

“I remember the speed of the game in my first international. It was their big pool game to prepare for the quarter final and they were hacked off we had put out a second string team effectively. It was tough for me because before we kept getting asked about putting out a second string team (but) I loved the occasion, getting my first cap, the whole week was great, although as far as first caps go the result was not what I always dreamed of,” he said, modestly brushing aside the suggestion that he had got the better of then All Black captain Richie McCaw.

There is no McCaw this time, but as Barclay acknowledged, they are hardly less formidable in his absence.

“That is just the way of New Zealand isn’t it?” he said, rhetorically. “They had a lot of people retiring at the same time, Conrad Smith, Nonu, Dan Carter and these guys so maybe they were worried about what would happen next. I saw a few things after the Lions saying the All Blacks were vulnerable on this tour. That is a bit comical really when you look at their record. They have to have a strong mentality otherwise they would not produce these teams year in year out. They don’t have an inherent right to do so but they do. I am sure they are confident. Their record has not been matched. I don’t know how, or why it is the case but it hasn’t. That’s one for the experts.”

Even so it is not only the Lions that have beaten them and there has to be some impact on the psyche of both sides that Scotland have beaten Ireland and Australia, both of whom have beaten the All Blacks within the last year or so.

“What they do is very good but we have looked at how to beat them, how teams have done it,” said Barclay. “We don’t have time to sit and watch 80 minutes, 80 minutes and 80 minutes. We tend to look at patterns, areas of focus. We’ve looked at a few clips from then but more recently we’ve looked at the Australia game but also games the All Blacks have won as well but where other teams have given them problems, like France, for example, at the weekend.”

He reckoned his own side should meanwhile take confidence in their own better performances in recent times, not least that victory over the Wallabies in Sydney in June, which he believes has been under-valued.

“It’s hard to compare, (but) that was a pretty good performance. It’s funny, people were suddenly saying ‘oh Australia are not very good anymore’ then they beat the All Blacks a few months later so they’re obviously not that bad,” Barclay noted. “We played well and that definitely sticks out as a good game. We played with good intent that day and a lot of accuracy. They will be key things this weekend.”

Barclay acknowledged that there is always an extra air of anticipation when the New Zealanders are in town and said Scotland would naturally pay additional respect to the world’s number one side when doing their pre-match analysis, but that their principal focus would remain on themselves.

“For me it’s always a big week when you come in and get to play for Scotland but I think when the All Blacks are in town everyone gets excited, the media get excited, the fans get excited. It’s a big challenge for us, the best team in the world coming to our back garden,” he said. “It’s really exciting to be playing at Murrayfield again. For me it’s about the challenge of playing the best team in the world and trying to beat them (but) we’ve got a few things we need to fix ourselves, get our own house in order a little bit first. We always do our homework, try and find weaknesses to exploit. We’ll have a look at them and devise and gameplan and strategy we think could be effective against them.”

As to how much discussion there had been of seeking to become the first Scots to beat the All Blacks, he was politely dismissive.

“There would be no use talking about that would there? It’s one of those stats isn’t it?” he said, getting all rhetorical again. “We’ve certainly not mentioned it. I knew coming up here [to the press conference] it would be mentioned but no. It doesn’t bother me, it is what it is. It’s a stat. It will still be the stat come one minute before kick-off on the weekend. We’ll then have 80 minutes of rugby to play. We’ll go out, it’s a huge challenge but an exciting one to try and change that record. We’ve got to do a bit of homework on the All Blacks but if we sit back and talk about them and how fantastic they are there’s no chance.”