Fringe squad member Chris Feauai-Sautia crosses for the Wallabies' second try. Photo: Reuters
If Ewen McKenzie wanted to test the mettle of the Wallabies he could not have designed a better obstacle course.
He suspended six of his best, lost one to the vagaries of the International Rugby Board's disciplinary process and sent a third home injured.
Then he told the rest of the squad including a bunch of players who, in the words of captain Ben Mowen, had been "wearing a bib for most of the tour", to "suck it up and get going" against Scotland.
Wallabies hold off Scotland
Australia's Quade Cooper, left, is tackled by Scotland's Sean Maitland. Photo: AP
McKenzie's genuine and visible shock over the late-night antics of some of his most senior players absolutely scotches any conspiratorial takes on his actions during the past 10 days.
He was hurt and disappointed. There was no grand plan.
But if the new Wallabies coach wanted to get a really, really good read on the mindset and conviction among his top 30-odd players, throwing them onto a loose, sandy pitch in temperatures hovering precariously above zero was a pretty good way to do it.
"I'm proud of the team every week we play but I was proud of the complexity of tonight," McKenzie said.
"We went through a list of things that told us how hard it was going to be, so to be able to overcome and maintain this little run of wins was the most important thing."
The Wallabies' 21-15 win over Scotland will be good preparation for their final Test of the season, against Wales in Cardiff this weekend.
Despite Australia's run of eight straight victories against the Welsh, the margins of the most recent clashes suggest it is only a matter of time before Warren Gatland's side break through.
The Wallabies managed a clean sweep of Wales when they toured Australia in June last year but won each of the three Tests by two points or less.
The British and Irish Lions tour this year will give Gatland even more confidence, with Welsh players dominating the line-up in the touring squad and series decider.
The New Zealand-bred coach, who has coached his Test side to just one win against Australia from nine attempts since taking over in 2008, said Wales should take confidence into their final Test of the northern hemisphere autumn internationals.
"We have to be confident and look forward to it," Gatland said. "If we win next week and finish with three victories from four games it will be a satisfactory autumn."
McKenzie picked up on the comments quick smart, and seemed happy to concede favourites status to Gatland.
"We're going there as underdogs, I think Gatland has already been talking them up in terms of how they're going to beat us," he said.
"I read it this morning. He sounds quite confident of victory, so that's all right. We'll go down and do our best."
The Wallabies will have five of their suspended players back, including Adam Ashley-Cooper, Benn Robinson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Nick Cummins and Liam Gill.
Prop Paddy Ryan, who was on the bench against Scotland to satisfy IRB regulations stipulating each team must name four props in their 23, will serve his suspension this week.
It was the second Test in a row in which the Wallabies have not conceded a try. It is a telling statistic after the side's attack was the first aspect to flourish but their defence struggled.
"I was pleased with a couple of tries and about keeping our try line intact for two weeks in a row, that was important," McKenzie said.
"What's that telling me is that we've made a lot of progress in the attack side of the game but to be able to stop other teams, the relationship between the two is pretty important."
McKenzie resisted the chance to talk about vindication in light of the impact his tough disciplinary stance had on the team's line-up this week.
"It was two separate exercises. One was a decision made about establishing some benchmarks around performance, and [Saturday] was about playing a game of football in difficult conditions," he said.
"There's obviously some connection but I'm not spending a lot of time on that; we had a task and we had a bunch of guys dedicated to getting that done, so that's as far as I'll take it and next week's another task."