OPENING night celebration pool parties have become such a cornerstone of Scotland’s Commonwealth Games routine that there was a sense of disbelief here yesterday when our nearest neighbours England decided to do some Gold Coast gate crashing of their own.

Four years ago in Glasgow, pretty much everything Hannah Miley and Ross Murdoch touched was turning to gold. Yesterday they discovered that their Midas touch had momentarily deserted them. With four golds on the day, it was England who ruled the waves on day one at the Optus Aquatic Centre.

Everything had been going so swimmingly for Team Scotland during the morning session. Every single swimmer sailed serenely through to the next phase of their events with headline acts Miley and Murdoch qualifying fastest by almost a second in the 400m individual medley and 200m breaststroke respectively.

Surely further Day One delight beckoned for Scotland, just like those halcyon triumphs of Caitlin McClatchey and David Carry back in Melbourne in 2006 or Miley and Murdoch themselves in Glasgow four years ago?

But no, as triathlete Marc Austin proved when shocking the Brownlee brothers just over the way at the Southport Broadwater Parklands, even greatness provides no sure fire guarantees of glory. New heroes are always just around the corner.

By the time their day was done, Miley and Murdoch had found themselves reeled in by English rivals, each attempting to make sense of their conflicting emotions, dealing with the nagging feeling that they let the country down in some way yet still trying to find silver linings from second place.

The similarities in their stories were striking. Both had left everything out there on the night, expended every ounce of energy they had in their bodies, only to find themselves out-lasted stroke-for-stroke in a dash for the line by an opponent who had a bit more in the tank, not to mention a serious Scottish connection to speak of.

In Miley’s case, this was Aimee Willmott, the kind of woman who, if swimming was boxing, would have been considered in a different weight category altogether. Willmott, who has been training with Murdoch et al at the University of Stirling, had actually trailed Miley by a fraction at the final turn before outstripping her down the straight by all of 0.26 seconds. At a stroke she put an end to Miley’s hopes of hopes of becoming the first Scot to win the same event at three successive games. While this was enough for her to offer an apology to the nation, the 28-year-old, of course, has nothing to apologise to anybody about.

“It’s safe to say I left nothing in the pool,” she said. “And I’m so glad to have come away with a medal. It’s my fourth games and to be on the podium for the same event for the third time is amazing. It’s obviously not the gold that everyone was expecting and hoping for. I can only apologise. But it’s still a medal – and it’s never been about the medal, for me.”

“I have no regrets, none whatsoever,” she added. “I can’t be disappointed with that swim. There was expectation and pressure for me to come and win that gold. And I was always worried that, if I didn’t achieve that, I would be seen as a disappointment. But, you know, there’s nobody really in the Commonwealth still swimming the 400 medley at the age of 28.

“Aimee gave me one heck of a race. I commend her efforts, fantastic, and that’s sport. I want people to know that I’m still a fighter. I might not be the tallest, I might not be the strongest, but I’ll always be the hardest working athlete I can possibly be.”

As for Murdoch, he too led at the final turn, only to find himself blind-sided by James Wilby, an Englishman who was actually born in Glasgow, in Lane 3 as he vainly tried to keep Matt Wilson of Australia in check on his other side. Four years ago, all the surprise and delight had belonged to Murdoch as he surprised Michael Jamieson – now it was Wilby who had a smile as wide as the Clyde. Amazingly, Murdoch had led by over a second at that final change with Wilby back in seventh yet the Englishman still won by 0.27 seconds. Other Scots Craig Benson and Calum Tait finished out of the places.

“My last 50m was dire,” said Murdoch, whose second place will rubber stamp his appearance at the European Championships in Glasgow this August. “I was dying there in that last 25. I think I pushed either the second 25 of my second 50 or the first 25 of the third 50 just a tad hard and it ate away from the last bit of my race.

“But I’m not standing here trying to sell a sob story. I don’t want anybody feeling sorry for me at all. A year and a half ago [after Rio, when he contemplated giving up the sport] I was a completely different man to the one I am now. I’m absolutely delighted to be standing here with a medal around my neck. I’ve said before that I wasn’t defending anything, but I did feel a strong sense of pride and honour going out there tonight and I wanted to provide for the country.”

Incidentally neither Miley nor Murdoch are remotely done yet, even if the latter has the not inconsiderable challenge of Adam Peaty to contend with in Saturday’s 100m breaststroke.