Scotland play the Spanish wonder-kids tonight at Hampden and even though Craig Levein will try to arrange his team (and the Tartan Army sing their hearts out) in order to prevent a one-way thrashing, there is probably no stopping such an onslaught.

That’s fine though, that’s only 90 minutes of embarrassment and more bruises for the Scottish footballing ego. It’s nothing that a dark room and a couple of cans of Tennents Super Strength Lager won’t fix. OK, maybe three cans.

However, there may be a bigger ‘hiding to nothing’ coming Scotland’s way, and I don’t mean in football. What if we set up our nation’s structures to defend ourselves from cuts and those defences give way? What if coalition cuts start to run rings around our nation’s formation? What if we are not equipped to combat the destructive force that will be in front of us over the next half a decade? In short, is Scotland ready for the financial pain that is on its way and, if not, what will happen then?

There is currently a debate being held across the UK assessing whether increasing tuition fees in England & Wales is the correct future for further education. Such a debate would struggle to get off the ground in Scotland where support for universal and free access to university is fairly widespread.

However, how can a Scottish Government, with the best will in the world, deliver a policy of free access for students when its spending allowance does not take this option into account? And how can a Scottish Opposition realistically resist the temptation to exacerbate that difficulty for its own ends?

The obvious solution is a higher tax rate in Scotland to pay for universities centrally rather than through tuition fees but the current constitutional arrangement does not allow for this. There is a similar ideological divergence causing spending problems in benefits, the NHS and defence with no immediate solution to break the logjam.

Further evidence of Scotland not being ready to handle these cuts is the deficit that it holds. I don’t mean a Scottish Government deficit (none such exists as it can neither save nor borrow) and nor do I mean even the considerable Scottish slice of the UK deficit. I mean the £9bn that councils owe and are no doubt attracting onerous interest charges on.

I don’t mean this with disrespect but if the beancounters at HBOS, RBS and the Treasury can get their sums wrong and leave the UK vulnerable and exposed then the same can happen at any of the 32 councils across Scotland. £9bn is a lot of money for a small country of 5million to owe, it is £1,800 per person and it won’t be getting paid anytime soon while councillors focus on bins getting emptied and stocking dilapidated schools with jotters and textbooks.

Another aspect in which Scotland might not be ready for these cuts is just the simple presence of Conservatives back in Government. There is little doubt that the Tory brand remains toxic north of the border so although we should have had years to prepare ourselves for a Prime Minister Cameron, we may collectively be a little startled by it all and still unable to work grudgingly but constructively with the settled will of the Midlands and South of England. The temptation to lash out at anything forthcoming from George Osborne (a temptation albeit mitigated by a fuzzy Lib Dem presence) may count against us rather than for us when the final realisation that protests are not enough to save shrinking budgets. But even still, how do you adapt to spending less when you do not share in the philosophy that has caused that situation?

Scotland’s constitutional arrangement is regrettably similar to Craig Levein’s 4-6-0 and our politician’s approach to attack has been no more imaginative than throwing it up the line to try to win a throw-in. There needs to be a drastic rework of our political game so that, as a nation, our politicians can metaphorically run out onto the turf full of optimism, safe in the knowledge that we have the structures, the defences and the strategies to cope, adapt and succeed in the face of any challenge that comes our way.

These cuts, much like football, aren’t a matter of life and death.

It’s more important than that.

Anyway, first things first, bring it on Spain.