Tonight, it is not life or death. All that is on the line is hope - the hope of an entire footballing nation who recognise the urgent need to breathe new life into an ailing qualification campaign.
Defeat would mean the end of the road for Scotland's aspirations to remain in contention for a place in the World Cup finals in 2014.
A draw would be almost as terminal, given the fact Craig Levein's side have taken only two points from their opening brace of home matches against Serbia and Macedonia.
Following on the heels of the Euro 2012 disappointment, the manager's own position is on the critical list.
Levein may be able to take some solace from the fact his counterpart this evening, Chris Coleman, is languishing in an even more precarious position, having failed to carry on the good work and momentum established by Gary Speed before his tragic death.
But, by the time he hears the final whistle around 9.35 this evening, Levein must be in a position to commiserate with Coleman and congratulate his players on winning three points.
The prospect of travelling to Belgium on Monday for the next game the following evening without the confidence boost of a victory is as unpalatable as Levein's position would be untenable.
His natural caution has thrown Scotland into reverse and is rapidly disillusioning even the most devoted Tartan Army footsoldier
The interminable Doe A Deer is being replaced by simply Oh Dear as the gap between Scotland's last appearance in a major finals and the possibility of their next threatens to grow even wider.
When we had hoped to be rising up the Fifa rankings, we are instead plummeting down World Cup qualifying Group A – and we have not even reached the halfway point of the campaign.
Damage sustained thus far has, for the most part, been self-inflicted, with Levein's side shooting itself in the foot more often than shooting at goal.
Having the best strikers on the field has been something of anathema to the manager.
Now, when his back is against the wall, he has jettisoned his intransigence and bowed to public opinion with the door finally re-opened to Steven Fletcher and Kris Commons.
Of course, it is a manager's prerogative to manage. However, every bit as much truth is to be found in the supporters' right to judge a manager on results.
Under Levein, these have not been of a standard to prove conclusively he is the man to take this country forward, or even in the general direction of a major finals.
The jury remains out, but it is the manager's own defence which might hang him out to dry.
Levein simply has to remove the shackles and allow his players to have a go. To falter because they are tripping over the tethers put in place by the manager's belt-and-braces default position would be unforgivable.
Levein remains convinced of his ability to carry out the job successfully.
But his own refusal to accept when he has got it wrong – Prague and 4-6-0 ? – is his Achilles' heel.
He responded to the criticism of the goalless draw with Serbia by hiding behind numbers, regaling us with the fact the visiting defence cost around £45million when last the subject of transfers.
Fine. But if you want to throw values around, you can't ignore the fact Scotland had an £8m striker on the bench for the majority of the match – Jordan Rhodes – and a £14m striker watching the match from a bar in Spain – Steven Fletcher.
The only numbers that matter are those in the points column, and Scotland's tally is now sufficient to make tonight's game nothing less than a must-win.
The opening draw placed unnecessary pressure on the players to win against Macedonia, and the snowball effect of drawing that game has brought this avalanche of criticism down on Levein.
Some already give us less than a snowball's chance in hell of recovering.
But while having played 40% of our home games and taking only 33% of the points is a severe body blow, there is still time to bounce back up from the canvas.
The fightback has to start in Cardiff, however, or Scotland will be counted out three rounds in.
Steven Fletcher is being burdened by almost-saviour-like importance, but the man who must perform is Levein.
The manager must select the correct team and furnish them with the right tactics.
The over-riding instruction must be to take the game to the wobbling Welsh, and thus nullify the threat posed by the likes of Gareth Bale.
It will go against the grain for Levein, but he cannot revert to his default position and try to hold what he has.
If Scotland can't take all three points tonight, what he has will amount to very little, other than the prospect of a decent pay-off from his employers who will come under intense pressure to replace him.
There are several men currently standing in the unemployed manager's line who would attract support within and outwith the SFA, with Gordon Strachan an obvious candidate.
Levein came as close to showing some evidence of contrition as he has ever done following the draw against the minnows of Macedonia.
The subsequent re- introduction of Fletcher and Commons is another indicator the manager concedes he has to acknowledge that it is not everyone else who has been out of step.
Now he has to show on the field that he has learned from mistakes and that he can take Scotland forward with a fresh and unifying approach.
That transformation must begin tonight, or Brussels may be considered a bridge too far for his tenure.