As Scotland seek to follow their long-awaited Calcutta Cup victory with a win in Dublin next weekend, they appear to be expecting a variation on a theme in terms of what will confront them.

The traditional playing styles of England and Ireland may be poles apart, but Mike Blair, Scotland’s assistant coach, suggested yesterday that European rugby’s top two international teams have rather more in common these days.

“There will be similarities with having [former England assistant coach] Andy Farrell as defence coach from the Saracens background,” he said, pointing to the former Great Britain Rugby League captain’s association with current England head coach Eddie Jones at the English Premiership club.

“They are quality teams. We need to be able to put them under pressure. I felt we did that against England by holding on to the ball and manipulating their defence.

"We need to do that to Ireland. We can’t let them dominate the game as they have in the past 18 months or so,” Blair continued.

As he knows, however, that is easier said than done and, as comfortable as Scotland’s victory ultimately was against England at Murrayfield last month in recording their biggest win in the fixture for 32 years, there were moments when their high-risk approach might have backfired, just as it did in their only previous away match in this campaign, on the opening day in Cardiff.

In many ways, then, it will be about pace versus patience in terms of playing style.

“Ireland will know we like a high-tempo game and I’m sure they will have ways to prevent that,” said Blair.

“I think intensity is probably a key word for them. They go hard at the breakdown when they’re carrying, they’re very quick on the ball there, which allows them to get those phases going.

“They are creeping the yards, making two or three yards on each carry, which all adds up, but they’ve got some flair behind the pack, as well and [Bundee] Aki has power, so they’ve got a great balance to the team. But we can’t allow them to just go through the phases, go through the patterns and make yards on us. We have to stop them.”

“This will be at least as tough as facing England at home. Ireland play a very dominant brand of rugby, they’ve been very successful with it and will be firm favourites for the game.

“England, the second-best team in the world, that was a big challenge, but this week is something a bit different.

“One key thing about Ireland is their relentless phase play, their ability to get into your 22 and suffocate you. They will stay there until they take points away.

“They’ve done that at international level, obviously, but you also look at Leinster, that’s part of their game, as you saw when they had, I think, 42 or 43 phases against Exeter and they have similar personnel there.

“Ireland did it well against Wales. Whenever they got into that gold zone, that finish zone, they were coming up with points, so that’s going to be a big focus for us, preventing that from happening.”

In bidding to impose their game upon their hosts they have, by Scottish standards, an embarrassment of riches with the squad of players that has registered back-to-back wins over France and England having come through those Murrayfield encounters without adding to what was at one stage a debilitating-looking injury list, while a string of players who would previously have been considered automatic choices for the match 23, if not the starting XV, have been regaining full fitness.

On the back of – in particular, that momentous victory over England – it almost looks like a selection dilemma in having to decide between choosing the same starting squad or re-introducing British & Irish Lions lock Richie Gray who has caused Ireland significant problems in the past, in particular in the lineout, Alex Dunbar, who has been a key figure in Scotland’s defensive systems in recent years, or front-row forwards Fraser Brown and Zander Fagerson.

“These are all discussions that we have. It’s not picked out of a hat, the team,” Blair noted.

“There is an element of cohesion, picking guys who have played together for a while, who have won together, but also you look at guys who have that special impact, the ability to change a game. Everything is weighed up.”

As to the opposition’s strengths, as an ex-scrum-half Blair readily accepted that two of his own former foes, Irish half-backs Jonny Sexton and Conor Murray, could not be allowed to dictate how the match will be played.

“You can’t focus too much on one player, but he and Murray are really influential,” he said, when asked about Sexton.

“Nines and tens are generally influential. If they play well, your team plays well [and] whenever we play against any opposition, we look at ways of looking at specific players. With Sexton being a key player for them, it will be important to shut him down.”