IF the 4-0 pasting dished out by the Belgians at Hampden last September is anything to go by, Scotland and the Tartan Army could be in for a long old night at the King Baudouin Stadium on Tuesday night. But while Roberto Martinez will wheel out the superstars for the Red Devils yet again, the Scotland team that they face could be an entirely different proposition.

That’s the hope of Charlie Mulgrew at least, who was part of the dark blue defence that night who were not only torn apart at times, but also were the most generous of hosts by gift-wrapping a couple of goals for their visitors for good measure.

The opening goal, when John McGinn was robbed after the ball was rolled to him by Craig Gordon and was subsequently nestling in the Scotland net via the boot of Romelu Lukaku seconds later, was particularly painful to watch.

With Steve Clarke now at the helm following the departure of Alex McLeish, a more pragmatic approach will be taken in Brussels. As admirable as sticking to footballing principles is, Mulgrew believes that their previous meeting with the world’s number one ranked side showed them that knowing when to play is the most important thing.

“The problem was we tried to pass from the back and they were set up for that, ready to press,” Mulgrew said.

“They let us have it and then five of them just came at us. That was their game plan and we played right into their hands. We would have been better playing a bit longer. It’s one of those things, they are a top side and we’ll be better prepared this time.

“We can [learn from the friendly game] and it is probably a completely different team and way of playing.

“We’ll be looking at what the manager wants us to do and what the set-up will be, and we’ll take it from there.

“I’m sure it will be a different sort of game.”

Mulgrew started in the centre of a back three that wet night at Hampden last year, but there may be a marked difference in both set-up and personnel from the Scots this time around. With young centre-backs like Scott McKenna, John Souttar and David Bates coming through, 33-year-old Mulgrew is doing all he can to stay ahead of the pack and get into the team.

“I think competition is good for anybody in life, it drives you on,” he said.

“It’s good to see these young players coming through and it’s good to challenge yourself against them. There’s some real talent there, so that’s only good for the country.

“I’m trying to be as close to Vegan as I can as often as I can. It has helped, I’ve lost two or three kilos of my normal weight and I feel good for it.

“I probably feel fitter now than I ever have. I don’t know if that’s because I never lived my life as well when I was younger as I do now, but I feel the fittest I’ve ever been.

“Age is only a number to be honest with you, and if you keep thinking you are getting old then you will.

“You just need to keep your head on what you are doing, keep running hard and keep yourself fit.

“Gordon Strachan is a great example of that. He was playing right into his forties and he says that.

“I’ve spoken to him about it. He used to have a two-hour sleep in the afternoon and have two bananas a day, that’s what he said. So, I’ve had about 14 bananas in the last two days!

“When he said that he had two bananas a day, somebody who I don’t want to expose said; ‘Is that it?’”