Vern Cotter (File)
Glasgow - Scotland go into the Rugby World Cup "simmering nicely" from their warm-up games after a torrid Six Nations tournament earlier this year, former centre Scott Hastings said.
Hastings, who played in three World Cups, including the 1991 showpiece when Scotland reached the last four before a heartbreaking loss to bitter rivals England, expects his nation to reach the knockout stage this time and banish memories of 2011.
Four years ago in New Zealand, Scotland failed to reach the quarter-finals for the first time, finishing third in their group behind England and Argentina with a 13-12 loss to the Pumas proving costly.
Scotland are in Pool B this time along with heavyweights South Africa, Samoa, Japan and the United States.
With the Springboks expected to win the group, the Scots are likely to be contending with the Samoans for a last eight place.
"I expect them to do it and then it's knockout rugby. If they don't reach the quarters then they've underperformed," former British and Irish Lion Hastings told The Scotsman newspaper.
"If, as many expect, it does come down to that Samoa game to secure qualification then that could be one of the most intense games of rugby Scotland have ever played in their history."
Vern Cotter's team finished bottom of the Six Nations Championship with five defeats from five but two warm-up wins over Italy and decent displays in narrow defeats by Ireland and France have offered encouragement.
"Four very good performances and two very good wins," Hastings said. "Don't underestimate what a winning feeling can do for a team."
Cotter took over in 2014 and has been praised for bringing an attacking style, if not a marked improvement in results.
"Everyone can see that there has been improvement under Vern Cotter," Hastings added.
"It's now up to the players, in a World Cup, to bring that intensity to their own environment, and execute under pressure."