Don’t call it a comeback, Sarah Inglis pleads. It is just a timely advance.

“There are people who have been going ‘where did you go’?” she laughs. “But I’ve been running the whole time.”

Nine years have passed since the Scot donned a British vest. Now 27, the European cross-country championships she attended seem a long time ago. Yet tonight in London, she returns to the international fray at the European 10,000 metres Cup with a determination to make this more than a fleeting re-acquaintance.

Formerly a PE student in Edinburgh, Inglis was lured to the great plains of western Canada when then-Scottish Athletics supremo Laurier Primeau decanted back to his homeland. Come sample the clean air and the opportunities, he said by way of temptation. Off she went, first to study, then to teach, and now embedded in a training group that affords her all the camaraderie and commitment she desires.

“Plus I’ve a boyfriend there,” she says. “He’d never speak to me again if I didn’t say that was a big reason I’m there now. I love Vancouver, the lifestyle and the environment. It gets a bit cold in winter but I’d forgotten what it’s like here in summer until I came back. I was out running in the sun this week but it was freezing and windy. That’s something I haven’t missed.”

In an accent that remains thickly Falkirk, she adds: “I’m Scottish loyal.”

To GB&NI too. Which is why she has persisted and hopes the selectors will eventually summon her once again.

She will find no better setting in athletics this evening than the unique surroundings of the compact Highgate stadium on Parliament Hill. It is athletics in the raw, for the masses, a spectacular stage for her international re-acquaintance with the annual Night of the 10,000 PB’s inviting the crowds to line the track and roar loudly, in tandem with a raft of populist innovations including a light beam that promises to guide the runners on the desired pace.

It is an event that has been copied, but never quite matched.

“The Canadians had watched Highgate and they were trying to replicate it,” Inglis says. “So they had bongo drums and fireworks, all the extras. It was good but Highgate has 8,000 people watching. You get to run through the bar, beside everyone watching. It’s great as a race so I’m hoping that will spur me on.”

She will have to see off Europe’s leading lights and also the best of British – including Caledonian compatriots Eilish McColgan, Steph Twell and Mhairi Maclennan. The 25 laps will also double as the UK trials for autumn’s world championships in Doha with three spots up for grabs. A qualifying mark of 31 minutes 50 seconds is required. That is quicker than Inglis’ best, set when she came second at last month’s Canadian Championships in 32:11, knocking 25 seconds off her prior benchmark. It was a tactical race that left her with more in reserve.

“We were on pace for the standard at half way until it became a race. So there is definitely more there. I’m just going in this weekend with nothing to lose and I’ll definitely aim for the standard.

“Any other year, my 32:11 would have been an Olympic or world qualifier. It’s frustrating they’ve reduced the times. But we’re all spurring each other on. The girls I train with are pushing too so I’d like to push further and see what I can do.”

With twin targets for many, it could bring the kind of bun fight that gets Highgate bouncing at full volume; it is just what athletics wants: excitement and high stakes. It’s certainly worth coming back for.