Scotland currently sits dead middle of their group, tied on points with Kazakhstan after four games.
In terms of morale, the national side similarly sit poised precariously between optimism and despair.
Friday 6 September will likely see that delicate balance tip in one direction or the other, with Scotland playing host to the Russia side currently occupying the group's second place berth. A far cry from the mess Scotland made, Russia returned from Kazakhstan with a comfortable 4-0 victory back in March, and followed it up with a resounding 9-0 win over group minnows San Marino, and a less resounding 1-0 triumph over Cyprus in June.
If Steve Clarke's appointment hasn't yielded an overnight transformation, it has ensured vital victories against both sides (2-0 in San Marino and 2-1 at home to Cyprus).
It also produced a 3-0 defeat to Belgium that while still a 3-0 defeat, was not the total obliteration many had feared.
While there are currently only three points separating them, if Scotland are to retain any serious hope of leapfrogging their Russian rivals, some measure of success at Hampden on Friday night will be vital.
When is the game?
The Scotland v Russia game will take place on Friday 6 September, with kick off at 7.45pm
Where can I watch it?
The match will be played at Hampden Park, with tickets starting at £8 for juniors and £27 for adults. However, those coming from further afield and travelling by train have been advised to leave extra time time for their journeys, and to move swiftly at the final whistle as Scotrail look set to struggle with the combined crowds of Hampden and Murrayfield.
Alternatively, the match will also be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event.
How will Scotland line up?
Steve Clarke has re-shuffled his offensive options considerably for the home double-header, with no room in his squad for Leigh Griffiths, Lewis Morgan, Marc McNulty, Eamon Brophy or Oliver Burke.
Their absence sees the return of old hands Steven Naismith and Robert Snodgrass.
At the other end of the field, Perth-born stopper Craig MacGillivray earns his first call-up, replacing the injured Scott Bain.
With Scott McKenna, Grant Hanley and Liam Palmer similarly sidelined, it is likely that either Liam Cooper or David Bates will partner Charlie Mulgrew at the heart of defence, while Liverpool ace Andy Robertson looks primed to reclaim his left-back spot from Greg Taylor.
The complete Scotland squad is as follows:
Craig MacGillivray (Portsmouth)David Marshall (Wigan)Jon McLaughlin (Sunderland)
Defenders:Liam Cooper (Leeds)Charlie Mulgrew (Wigan)Stephen O'Donnell (Kilmarnock)David Bates (Sheffield Wednesday)Mikey Devlin (Abderdeen)Andrew Robertson (Liverpool)Greg Taylor (Kilmarnock)
Midfielders:Stuart Armstrong (Southampton)Ryan Christie (Celtic)Ryan Jack (Rangers)John McGinn (Aston Villa)Callum McGregor (Celtic)Kenny McLean (Norwich)Scott McTominay (Manchester United)
Forwards:Robert Snodgrass (West Ham)James Forrest (Celtic)Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United)Steven Naismith (Hearts)Matt Phillips (West Brom)Johnny Russell (Sporting Kansas City)