Five years ago it was similar, but different for John Barclay as he bade his club’s supporters an emotional farewell at Scotstoun while representing the home team.

On that occasion there was always going to be at least one more game, albeit at a remote location in Galway. However, treacherous as visits to Connacht have always been, he and his team-mates knew they could not afford to lose on their home pitch that night with their opponents, the Ospreys, still in with an outside chance of overhauling them in the race for play-off places.

They were to win comfortably – 35-17 – and go on to those play-offs where they were narrowly beaten by Leinster in a Dublin semi-final. 
While that is not the only reason the Scotland captain has fond memories of the evening in question, he drew comparison between that and his latest return to Glasgow tomorrow, in the need to set sentiment aside.

“It was kind of similar,” he said, when invited to look back. “My 150th game for Glasgow was my last game for the club there, but we had the semi-final coming up, so it didn’t feel like my last game. It was a really nice day, Graeme Morrison’s last game for Glasgow as well and we are best mates so we ran out together and obviously I’ve got good memories of my time there. I only played a season there and it felt like the first time Glasgow had its own home so I obviously felt a connection with that and the growth of the club has been incredible.”

This time around the difference is that the play-offs are already upon us and all involved know it is the end of the season for the losing team. Naturally, having won the title last season, but set to join Edinburgh this summer, Barclay is determined that his final game for the Scarlets will not be on his old stomping ground.

“Absolutely not . . . I’ll be doing my utmost to make sure we can get to anther final, but you’ve got 23 guys on the other team doing the same. That’s knock-out rugby, that’s what makes it exciting, it’s the culmination of many months of hard work,” he observed.

The 31-year-old has been around too long to let such distractions affect his preparation, however.

“It might be my last game and it might not,” he said. “It’s not really in my thoughts right now. Obviously, I’m hoping to get to the final and even then, there’s too much going on to think about that. I’m aware it’s my last couple of weeks here. I am just trying to enjoy the time while I am here.”

Yet to play on the 4G surface at Scotstoun, his last visit produced the sort of outcome the Scarlets are looking for again when they were the first visitors to the then newly-crowned champions at the start of the 2015/16 and duly spoiled their party, as well as ending a run of home wins extending back through 11 league matches plus the semi-final the previous season.

This time around Glasgow have expressed pride in a home run in the league that has seen them win every match and pick up a four-try bonus point in all bar one, but their form has dipped season as just three wins have been registered in their last eight league matches. Barclay is not reading too much into that, though.

“I can’t obviously say too much about what’s spoken about in their camp. I obviously know the players well from Scotland camps and from playing with some of them at Glasgow. They are going to be motivated,” he said.

“They are in the same boat as us because they know that if they don’t play well then it will be the end of their season. They’ve got quality players. Maybe they’ve lost a couple of games recently, but you don’t become a bad team overnight. They have a lot of quality in their team and a lot to play for. ”

That apparent loss of form included sending a full-strength team down to the Scarlets when seeking to secure top spot in their Conference only to be heavily beaten, but Barclay felt the final margin was unrepresentative.

“I don’t think it was that one-sided,” he said of that 26-8 Scarlets win.

“We kind of got away from them in the second half. We played quite well and it was one of those days when they probably didn’t fire as many shots as they wanted to. We’ll have a look at it and find areas where we felt we did well against them, but I know how disappointed they were after the game because I spoke to a couple of them and they’ve had a really good season and their record at home is outstanding. We know it’s a big challenge.”

Increasingly, though, the evidence has been that the Scarlets know how to cope with those, having defied the odds to become the first team to win an away semi-final in the PRO12 a year ago and, while their last knockout match was a hefty defeat in Dublin to a Leinster side that was on its way to proving itself the best in European for a fourth time, they are looking to draw upon that, too. 

“We had the European quarter-final, which was a good game, but the semi-final was a big disappointment. You don’t get second chances,” said Barclay.

“If we lose now, it’s over, whereas in the league you get to regroup and learn your lessons and build for next week. There is a bit of pressure but we won away last year, the first team to win an away semi-final and we did it with 14 men for 43 minutes. It’s hard to say whether we are learning but I’d like to think we took a lot from that Leinster defeat.”