WHATEVER your expectations were of the numbers in advance of yesterday’s independence march in Edinburgh, it’s almost certain they were exceeded.

The march of 100,000 people down the capital’s Royal Mile was an amazing sight.

It sends a clear signal that, far from fading away, the support for independence is growing.

The chaos of the Westminster Government’s “plans” for Brexit has focused minds on the need for an alternative future for our country.

The crucial question this weekend is how the staggeringly successful march influences the SNP’s conference, which begins in Glasgow today.

There is undoubtedly a message for Nicola Sturgeon in the growing numbers attending the All Under One Banner events.

But that message is not necessarily that the time is right to insist on an immediate vote on Scotland’s independence.

As Keith Brown argues in today’s Sunday National, it will take more than a march – even a march that attracts 100,000 people – to win the necessary support for independence in a second referendum. The tactic of knocking doors and the art of gentle persuasion undoubtedly have an important role to play too, even if the SNP’s Day of Action didn’t quite have the dramatic effect of yesterday’s event.

And therein lies the problem. If Nicola Sturgeon embraces a more cautious approach – and there is an argument to support delaying another referendum, if not by too long – her party still needs to find a way of inspiring and harnessing the energy of the grassroots movement which is desperately looking forward to another vote.

If the message of this conference is “Be patient, the time is not yet right”, it should be accompanied by new ideas to keep the faithful energised and occupied.

The time may not yet be right for holding the second independence referendum – but it is coming. We will know when it arrives and we will be ready.