England better for the fright
The fox that proved so difficult to remove from the Twickenham turf before the start of play rather summed up England v Scotland: strange day, strange game.
England fans with any perspective knew Scotland would be no pushovers - Andy Robinson's team are better than recent results suggest. But those who believed a first Grand Slam since 2003 was a formality will have had their faith severely tested. Ireland, who host England next week, will fancy their chances.
So, too, the three southern hemisphere sides who sit above England in the world rankings. If the manner of England's previous three wins in this year's Six Nations suggested they might be a factor in the World Cup in the autumn, their scrappy victory on Sunday revealed there is still much work to be done.
Credit Scotland. Richie Gray - tall, blonde, difficult not to notice even when he is having a middling game - exemplified everything that was good about his side. Martin Johnson's team were second best at the breakdown pretty much all game, although James Haskell, deservedly man of the match, had arguably his best outing in an England shirt.
And Scotland didn't exactly have their fair share of luck - John Barclay's second-half sin-binning was mystifying, while an injury to referee Romain Poite forced him to bring a halt to the game when Scotland were thrusting.
But it is customary in modern sport to talk of positives after an unsatisfactory performance - and Johnson has reasons to be upbeat. Ever the pragmatist, he will take the view that a win is a win in international rugby, especially against a team as dogged and determined as Scotland. The fact England triumphed despite an error-strewn display - winning ugly, I believe they call it - might even give Johnson a perverse hint of pleasure.
"Scotland came here to fight for their lives and they did," said Johnson. "It was a good battle. I'm happier in a way going to Dublin off the back of that game than scoring a lot of points and having it too easy. It will focus everyone's minds."
While England's recent success has been built on consistency of selection, Johnson will be heartened that it was his bench which made the difference against the Scots. Tom Croft, who replaced Tom Wood on 66 minutes, scored England's only try, while Matt Banahan, who replaced the injured Mike Tindall at half-time, made some barnstorming runs.
With Lewis Moody on the verge of returning after injury and the likes of Courtney Lawes and Riki Flutey waiting in the wings, all of a sudden England have plenty of options, and as any coach will tell you, selection headaches are only ever a good thing.
Not that Johnson is likely to make too many changes for the crunch game against Ireland in Dublin. If any. One area where the Irish will think they have the edge over England is in midfield, but Flutey, a more creative centre than either Tindall or Shontayne Hape, has been struggling for fitness of late and so is unlikely to get the call.
Rather than shuffle his pack, Johnson will reason the XV that started against Scotland cannot possibly play as scruffily again. One flat performance does not a bad team make, and it has given some splendid performances of late. And he will have his coaches working overtime on the breakdown, which the Irish will now perceive as a weakness.
Some might see England's scrappy victory over Scotland as a sign they are wobbling with a Grand Slam in sight. Dublin, the doom-merchants will say, will be where England unravel. Johnson will no doubt take a different view: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and England will be better for the fright.