Scotland and ginger footballers, or strawberry blondes if it sounds more eloquent, fit together as snugly as the country's somewhat cliched dalliance with Irn Bru, whisky, square slice sausage and a smattering of the world's finest golf courses. Ever since the time of The Picts, it seems it has always been thus.
During the days when Scotland were regulars at World Cup finals a couple of decades ago, the former Leeds United captain Billy Bremner, a midfielder binging on English and European trinkets, and perhaps the most celebrated ginger to don a dark blue shirt with 55 caps, would regularly turn up as a pundit on television panels. He remained a figure of some stature in Scotland until his premature death in 1997.
Around the time of a doomed World Cup campaign in Mexico, 1986, one remembers Bremner continually referring to the Scotland player in question as "the boy". This could range from Maurice Malpas in his early 20s to Graeme Souness in the death throes of his national career at the elite level.
Wee Billy, God rest his soul, would no doubt have been purring over Barry "The Boy" Bannan's performance as Scotland cut down those hardy international explorers of the Faroe Islands 3-0 on Wednesday night at Aberdeen's Pittodrie Stadium.
One swallow does not a summer make, but there has been much to admire about Bannan's effort over these past few days. Appearing for Aston Villa against Manchester United on Saturday, Bannan, 20, was arguably the pick of several youngsters trotted out by his manager Gerard Houllier in the fixture.
It seems to be quite evident why Houllier was brought in to succeed Martin O'Neill. The French coach is infinitely more focused on filtering younger players into the Villa side. His predecessor may have been more reluctant.
Perhaps Bannan would not have earned his chance if O'Neill remained at Villa. Or would not have encountered such heady days if injuries to men such as Stiliyan Petrov had not left Houllier hamstrung for cover. It is funny how football, like life, relies on such quirks of fate.
Marc Albrighton nabbed Villa's second in a rousing 2-2 draw with United, but it was Bannan who drew applause for his evasiveness, his engine and some fine distribution at Villa Park.
As a footballer of genuine quality, Bannan looks like a serious prospect, something that Scotland have been sorely missing during their decline over the past two decades. Bannan is an impish sort of figure, but his small legs pump like pistons in covering a large pitch in the Premier League.
He hit a post with a raking shot from distance against the Faroes and crossed for Danny Wilson, a defender of only 20 who Liverpool paid over £2 million to pluck from Rangers in the close season, to supply Jamie Mackie for his first goal representing Scotland.
Bannan has been compared to Bremner, Jimmy Johnstone, Gordon Strachan and, bizarrely enough, Spain's World Cup winners Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Scotland captain Darren Fletcher merely said Bannan was the same size as Xavi, but that did not stop some people taking the unwise parallel to its illogical extreme, as is the way in the land of the tabloid thinker.
You could even throw Tommy Burns into the mix if one is looking for a figure with a velvety left peg.
He is not related to that Dundee United great Eamonn Bannon, but he seems to rummage around with as much gusto. If you are good enough, you are old enough. If you are good enough, you are big enough. Remember, it was once said that the teenage Bremner was too small to make it.
Scotland have a habit of looking for the next big thing to bedeck its national side only to be sorely disappointed. A catalogue of youngsters have failed to progress far enough to carry the country to a major tournament over the past 12 years.
It remains difficult to pinpoint the decline of Scotland as a side of true potency in international climes, but the end of the 1980s seems a good enough time as any.
When Scotland validated their place at the 1990 Word Cups in Italy courtesy of a 1-1 draw with Norway at Hampden Park in November, 1989, they named the following side: Leighton, McPherson, Malpas, Aitken, McLeish, Miller, Johnston, McStay, McCoist, Bett, Cooper.
This all went on a fortnight before Bannan was born.
The present Scotland manager Craig Levein was a fine defender for Hearts, but would not have got a sniff of a regular game back in those days when Miller and McLeish were keeping figures such as Alan Hansen, Paul Hegarty, David Narey and Gary Gillespie, to reel a few names of the top of the head, in spectating roles.
Scotland were a side dripping with genuine quality, but the well was running dry at the end of the 1980s.
It is difficult to imagine that Uruguay once kicked Scotland off the park rather than let them play football in Mexico. Changed days, indeed.
Scotland did meander their way to Euro 96 and the World Cup finals in 1998, but they did so with a terrific work ethic engendered by Craig Brown and a type of defensive approach that was not the most pleasing on the eye. Scotland suffered badly when they tried to open up teams.
It is quite poignant that their last appearance at a World Cup finals was a 3-0 stuffing by Morocco when they chased a win to reach the second round. That one defeat acted as a microcosm of Scotland's failings over the past 12 years: a lack of genuine quality, a lack of flair and a shortage of players playing at the highest level.
One remembers blethering to Alex McLeish when he was manager of Hibernian in the aftermath of that match. This was a decade before he found himself running Scotland.
"It is always easier to defend than attack. We are fine if we don't open up, the problems begin when we have to go to try to win matches. We don't have those type of players," said McLeish.
Wilson, James McArthur, Craig Bryson, Cammy Bell, Steven Saunders and David Goodwillie all made their debuts for Scotland against the Faroe Islands.
Such promising days of youth probably last visited Pittodrie when Scotland's U21 side downed Germany 4-3 in Aberdeen to reach the semi-finals of the European Championship 18 years ago.
The kids who represented Scotland on Wednesday have grown up without seeing their country reach major finals, coming up short at various outposts. The Rampant Lion has been well and truly neutered since Scotland reached five straight World Cup finals between 1974-1990.
One remembers gathering in an assembly hall as a schoolkid to watch grainy images of Scotland claiming a 0-0 draw in a play-off match in Australia to qualify for Mexico. One wonders how many schools stop for Scotland now?
We live in times of the social network and game consoles. People have many more choices than they did, which is arguably to the betterment of society, but Scottish football has been damaged amid advancing technology, and a general laziness with rising obesity among children almost a criminal act of negligence.
Hitting a ball against a wall seems like an outdated concept when you have a Wii on hand, but there remains old-fashioned values among those who cling to the hope of reaching the most piercing levels of football. Hope was there along with the 10,000 fans who forked out for Tuesday's match.
Levein and the punters got decent feedback from such a match. At least there appears to be a genuine optimism about better times ahead.
Even if it doesn't come soon enough to save Scotland from what seems like a doomed bid to reach the Euro 2012 finals, the supporters hopefully glimpsed into a future where Scotland do not visit cities such as Prague, and open with no strikers.
As Billy Bremner would have said: "The boys done well."