The elation on the faces of every member of that Scotland squad that lapped up the Tartan Army’s acclaim at Hampden on Sunday night was a joy in itself. To say they deserved the moment is an understatement after a record breaking campaign that’s injected the pride back into those supporters.

But the brutal truth for some of those wearing the T Shirts bragging ‘We’re Off To Germany’ is...they won’t be. Simple maths means they can’t be. For the players, part one of the mission is complete - getting Scotland to Germany next summer. Part two is just beginning - the fight to make sure they’re on the plane.

And if ever there was a warning about the harsh reality that is guaranteed to hit some in the next seven months then it’s the same image of unbridled joy in Serbia three years ago when Steve Clarke’s class of 2020 ended 23 years of major tournament pain.

Clarke may be accused of being too loyal to players at times but that picture tells a very different story. For a start, three of the five players who held their nerve from 12 yards in that excruciating shoot-out against the Serbs to send us to the last Euros were nowhere near the finals the next summer.

Yes, Kenny McLean was cruelly robbed of his place through injury but Oli McBurnie and Leigh Griffiths were cut loose and have never been seen in a squad since.

Others who partied and conga’d in Belgrade were doing so not realising the impending blow to the gut too. Ryan Jack was harshly denied by injury like McLean. But Oliver Burke, Liam Palmer, Callum Paterson and Andy Considine simply missed the cut...the latter having as good as written the soundtrack to that success only to miss the chance to perform on the big stage.

That’s the pain facing some of those players who enjoyed the lap of honour on Sunday. As if to make their task even tougher, UEFA have decided to cut the size of each squad at next summer’s bash from 26 to 23 meaning even more of Clarke’s heroes will be kissing Auf Wiedersehen to their Deutsch dream.

So who’s in the firing line? Let’s start at number one. Angus Gunn is the undisputed first choice after his almost flawless arrival between the sticks at the start of the campaign.

His return from injury will mean one of the three goalkeepers in the last camp - Zander Clark, Liam Kelly and Robby McCrorie - will inevitably drop out. But if Craig Gordon completes his latest miracle by regaining his place at Hearts in the next couple of months then make that two with poor old Clark and one other facing the inevitable.

Then there’s the left side of defence. A backline that’s gone from conceding one goal in the first five qualifiers to losing six in the last three since skipper Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney were injured.

Those two, barring more injuries, will be guaranteed spots on the plane. But choose eight defenders out of this lot - Hickey, Patterson, Hendry, Porteous, Souttar, Cooper, McKenna, Tierney, Robertson, Hanley, Ralston, Doig, Taylor - and it’s not too difficult to see the headache facing Clarke.

You’d think the midfield would pretty much select itself barring injuries. But while John McGinn, Callum McGregor and Scott McTominay seem dead certs there may be uncomfortable doubts at the back of the minds of a few squad regulars.

Stuart Armstrong as good as admitted so after full-time on Sunday. Kenny McLean and Ryan Jack too are good enough but they’ll need to keep performing a club level to cement their spot.

Scotland's Lawrence Shankland celebrates
Scotland's Lawrence Shankland celebrates

Up front? Maybe that’s where the most questions lie. Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams when fit are Clarke’s go-to men. But after that it’s game on in the battle for forward positions. Lawrence Shankland? Right now he’d be a yes for me.

Jacob Brown? If prizes were handed out for commitment to the cause he’d be among the first names on the list. Unfortunately they’re not. Kevin Nisbet and Ross Stewart will be hungry to jump the Luton man in the pecking order.

And that’s before you consider the Ben Doak question. We all love a wild card at a major tournament and there’s no doubt the Liverpool wonderkid has a spark that could light up the big stage.

Then there’s the Anglos whose international futures are currently sitting in no mans’ land. Might a place at a major tournament make up the mind of the dithering Elliot Anderson? Would Clarke still leave the door open?

It was for Che Adams who suddenly nailed his colour to the mast ahead of Euro 2020 and has gone on to win over the Tartan Army.

Harvey Barnes? Tino Livramento? Anthony Gordon? Three more who are officially on the Scotland radar with Gareth Southgate struggling to fit them into his squad.

There are so many questions facing Clarke it’s just as well there’s seven months to answer them. That’s the harsh reality of top level football. But that pressure should sharpen the mind for those players in any doubt.

Do the business for their clubs between now and May or they’ll be watching Scotland on the big stage on their TV’s like the rest of us.