Gregor Townsend has said on a number of occasions that he is keen to use this Autumn Nations Cup campaign as an opportunity to grow the depth of his squad through giving fringe players opportunities, but don’t expect wholesale changes in the starting XV when the Scotland head coach names his team at lunchtime today, ahead of Sunday's clash against France at Murrayfield.

There has not been an injury update this week following last Saturday’s bruising victory over Italy, but Rory Sutherland looked in real pain when he retired early from that match with an ankle problem and Townsend was not too optimistic about his prospects of making a speedy recovery when he spoke immediately after the game.

That will open the door for Oli Kebble – the South African-born 28-year-old who recently qualified to wear the thistle through the residency rule – to make his first start at international level, having come off the bench in Scotland’s three games so far this Autumn, while Jamie Bhatti as the only other loose-head in the squad will presumably come onto the bench.

You might well wonder where Allan Dell, who was Scotland’s first choice loose-head this time last year, is at the moment? It is a good question. His name did not appear when the extended training squad was unveiled in early October, with Townsend lamenting a lack of recent game-time for London Irish since rugby restarted. Dell had played in four games and clocked 202 match minutes at that point, which was three games and 185 minutes more than Bhatti had managed.

The other fresh injury concern that we know about from last Saturday is Jamie Ritchie, who picked up a head knock. His availability will depend on progressing through the return to play protocols, which is a notoriously hard to predict process so it is really a toss of the coin as to whether he will make it.

If Ritchie is ruled out then Sam Skinner would be his obvious replacement at blindside flanker, with bulk and line-out prowess a particularly useful assets if Townsend is tempted to replace 6ft 5ins Blade Thomson (who had another quiet game on Saturday) with the smaller but more combative Matt Fagerson at No8. A wildcard for a return to the matchday squad could be veteran flanker Blair Cowan, who can be counted on to provide an abrasiveness in the contact area which was in conspicuously short supply after Ritchie’s early departure last weekend – although it is debatable whether picking a 34-year-old for his first cap since February 2016 would be a progressive move.

Fraser Brown is in a similar boat to Ritchie having suffered a head injury during training last week, but Townsend will not be unduly troubled if he needs to go with a combination of Stuart McInally and George Turner (who made a big impact off the bench last week) as his two hookers on Sunday.

Elsewhere, wing would appear to be the position where Townsend has most scope to mix things up. The powerful running of Duhan van der Merwe secured a try and the man-of-the-match accolade versus Italy, but he is still a newbie on the international stage and, against a French side which will bring a more sophisticated attacking game to Murrayfield than Italy could ever dream to muster, Sean Maitland – who scored two tries the last time Scotland played France – might be regarded as the safer all-round option.

France are sending their strongest available squad to Murrayfield and are arguably the in-form team in world rugby at the moment (although the All Blacks busting Argentinean’s might have something to say about that). Scotland will draw confidence from having beaten Les Bleus when the two sides met in the Six Nations back at the start of March, but also mindful of how much that result was down to Sutherland’s scrum heroics, which so exasperated opposite number Mohamed Haouas that he ended up throwing a wild punch at Jamie Ritchie and receiving a red-card for his troubles.

As excellent as Scotland were that day, they played more than half the match with an extra man. They are unlikely to be afforded that luxury this time, and if Sutherland doesn’t make it, their scrum – perhaps their most potent weapon during the last year – will be significantly diminished.

During their much-acclaimed five-match winning run, we have seen Scotland beat a poor Italy side twice, 14 Frenchmen once, a poor Welsh side once, and a Georgian team playing above their paygrade once. You can only beat what is put in front of you, so fair play to Townsend’s boys for doing that. But if France are focussed and keep their discipline, then this will be a different level of challenge, and a significant marker as to whether meaningful progress has been made or whether it has all just been a mirage.