TWO wins from four games in the Autumn Nations Series have tended to be seen as a pass mark for Scotland, and to give themselves a decent chance of doing that this year they need to beat Fiji today.

There is nothing at stake at BT Murrayfield this afternoon in the way that there is in the Six Nations or at the Rugby World Cup: for all the Amazonian spate of marketing hype, the Series remains a glorified agglomeration of friendlies. Nonetheless, the minimum requirement for any team eager to make progress – especially with the next World Cup now just a year away, and especially in home games – is the ability to beat teams further down the world rankings.

Scotland have fallen from sixth to ninth - a mere three places ahead of the Fijians - after losing by a point to Australia last week. Even so, that home advantage and the return of key England-based players such as Stuart Hogg and Chris Harris should give them the strength and the solidity needed to win by a comfortable margin.

If they do that, they will go into next Sunday’s game against New Zealand and the Test against Argentina six days later with at least a modicum of optimism. If they merely scrape a result, or even more so if they lose, the pressure on them for those two remaining games will mount considerably. Or, more specifically, the pressure on head coach Gregor Townsend, whose persistent refusal to select Finn Russell has led to a significant loss of confidence in him by a considerable section of the Scotland support.

So what do Scotland have to do today to ensure they end up not only winning, but winning well? Their primary task will be to dictate the structure of the contest, and in that respect the head coach has made a wise choice by preferring Adam Hastings to Blair Kinghorn at stand-off in one of half a dozen changes to his starting line-up.

Kinghorn is the more flamboyant of the two, the one more likely to conjure up a try out of nothing as he did last week, but Hastings can play the percentages more astutely. And against Fijian magicians such as Bill Mata, Scotland cannot afford to make this match a battle of improvisation and trickery.

“We’ll be looking to impose our game on them,” Jamie Ritchie, the captain, said yesterday. “We know what we’re expecting in terms of the things that they’re going to bring to the game, but the most important thing for us is our performance and how we put that out there. And we believe that if we put our best foot forward we’ll come away with the win.

“We know the talent as individuals that they have, playing across the world. And when they get the opportunity to come together, they’re well coached and they’re a pretty formidable team.

“If you look at some of their more recent games, I can think back to them playing Wales in autumn last year when they were ahead on the scoreboard after 60 minutes. This is not a team to be taken lightly and we certainly won’t be doing that.

“I’ve said it to the boys all week. We are aware of the threat they pose - but we are confident in our game plan and our ability to go out there and get a win.”

While Scotland will look to negate the Fijians’ strengths, they will also aim to play expansively at times after wingers Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe - two of their most potent attacking weapons - hardly got a touch against the Wallabies. But, as Townsend insisted, they are not simply going to throw the ball out wide and hope for the best. Far from it.

“If it becomes loose and we’re inaccurate, [Fiji] are going to make the most of their opportunities. Sometimes, going into the winter, the weather can become a factor in how much you can move the ball.

“We have to be physical, accurate and bring our game out, and our game is to get the ball into our back three’s hands. We know how good they are, and we certainly want Darcy and Duhan to get more touches this week. We believe we can have success with our attack.”

Attacking patiently will be the key, Townsend believes, not only because it will manoeuvre his team into a position from which they can launch their strike runners, but because the Fijians have the ability to punish impetuosity swiftly and severely.

“Going through phase after phase defending is something they maybe don’t want to do,” he added. “But if you’re inaccurate, one off-load and they’re gone - they have all sorts of players who can score from anywhere.”

Scotland (v Fiji at BT Murrayfield, today 1pm): S Hogg; D Graham, C Harris, C Redpath, D van der Merwe; A Hastings, A Price; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, R Gray, G Gilchrist, J Ritchie (captain), H Watson, M Fagerson. Substitutes: E Ashman, R Sutherland, M Walker, J Gray, J Dempsey, B White, B Kinghorn, S Tuipulotu.

Fiji: K Murimurivalu, S Tuicuvu, W Nayacalevu, K Ravouvou, V Habosi; V Botitu, F Lomani; E Mawi, S Matavesi, M Saulo, T Mayanavanua, L Rotuisolia, A Tuisue, L Botia, V Mata. Subs: T Ikanivere, L Natave, L Tagi, A Ratuniyarawa, K Kamikamica, P Matawalu, T Tela, S Maqala.

Referee: N Berry (Australia).