What is it about South America that induces Scotland to self-destruct? Alex McLeish’s side might not be going to the World Cup but they were edging towards a major achievement here in Lima by silencing the passionate, jubilant home fans.
Then disaster struck, as it tends to do on this continent.
Perhaps Scotland were tempting fate by wearing blue shorts, as they did in Argentina in their 3-1 defeat to Peru almost 40 years ago to the day.
Debutant goalkeeper Jordan Archer’s rash decision to come for a ball outside his box when Charlie Mulgrew looked to have the problem under control cost his team dear.
The impressive Christian Cueva slotted home the penalty awarded after Scott McKenna blocked Jefferson Farfan’s shot with his hands while Archer lay helpless on the turf.
The loss of this opening goal eight minutes before half-time came when Scotland seemed to be gaining a foothold in the game.
Two quick goals either side of half-time, the second from Lokomotiv Moscow’s Jefferson Farfan, with Archer again slightly suspect, brought an abrupt end to this promising spell of containment.
But it was containment with very little adventure. Scotland proved compliant guests. Peru goalkeeper Jose Carvallo did not have single save of note to make.
If Scotland succeeded in anything at all it was sucking the life out of the occasion.
Referee Pablo Hernandez’s final whistle was greeted with muted applause, far different to the wild reception greeting the teams as they walked out at the start as Peru serenaded their heroes.
Scotland endured a predictably torrid start in front of a full house. These expectant supporters made for a partisan environment but McLeish’s unfamiliar-looking side initially proved dogged opponents.
There were just 59 caps spread out throughout the team, 34 of them belonged to Charlie Mulgrew, who led the side out.
There were hopes, slim admittedly, that a new and sadly much less gifted generation could secure some belated redemption for their forefathers from 1978.
This was the first Scottish expedition to South America since the days of Alan Rough, Don Masson, Willie Johnston et al.
There was a large crowd inside the stadium three hours before kick off. It felt historic. Sadly for Scotland it was not about them.
This is what celebrating an imminent return to the World Cup finals following a 36-year exile looks like.
A haunting Ennio Morricone-esqe soundtrack played on a loop beforehand. Fears Scotland were being led into an ambush increased.
The Tartan Army, normally so conspicuous at away fixtures, was reduced in number to a mere cadre: just 350 or so.
Scotland, meanwhile, had eleven players – just. A raft of call-offs meant McLeish was forced to send out an experimental side.
There were four news caps, two of them Hibs players – Lewis Stevenson and Dylan McGeouch. John McGinn’s presence in midfield made up a trio from Easter Road.
Kilmarnock’s Stephen O’Donnell started at right back, another debutant. With two just inexperienced full backs – internationally, at least – Peru sought to attack Scotland down the flanks.
Stevenson and O’Donnell coped well for the most part.
Scott McTominay used his physical presence to good effect in midfield and McGinn offered some stout support, at one point tossing Andre Carillo to the ground as though he were a rag doll.
But this was a rare moment when Scotland did the bullying. Mostly they seemed to settle for knowing their place in this emotional send-off for Peru prior to a first World Cup adventure since 1982.
The hosts tested Archer after five minutes, the keeper tipping Cueva’s free-kick round the post. A Farfan shot on the turn was then dealt with comfortably by Archer.
Scotland were showing little in the way of attacking intent but seemed to be frustrating Peru as well as the supporters. Things started to go awry in the 37 th minute when Archer sensed danger where there was none - or at least not as much as he inadvertently created by running outside his box in a bid to claim a long ball hit down the left. Mulgrew was also seeking to deal with it but collided with Archer, Farfan pouncing on the opportunity to attempt to send the loose ball towards the open goal. McKenna instinctively raised his hands and while he escaped a booking he conceded a penalty. Cueva hit the penalty low and hard to Archer’s right.
It was a deflating blow to close to half-time. Hopes Scotland might regroup were quashed just two minutes after the interval. Archer let Farfan’s shot from ten yards slip by him but he received little help from his defenders, who allowed a cutback from Yoshimar Yotum to reach the accomplished striker.
One chance for the Scots to score presented itself after 72 minutes. Substitute Callum Paterson slung in a cross from the right which eluded the Peru defence and reached fellow substitute Oli McBurnie at the back post. The 21-year-old striker could neither control the ball nor direct it goalwards.
Scotland were willing but raw; too raw for a place like this and such a quality side as Peru. The callow visitors deserve praise for ensuring the roof did not cave in amid such hostile surroundings.
That it did not also had something to do with Peru, who slipped into self-preservation mode and were content to sit on what they had against a backdrop of constant drumming in the steep stands.
Peru 2 (Cueta pen 37, Farfan 47) Scotland 0
Peru: Carvallo, Advincula (Corzo 87), Ramos, Rodriguez, Trauco, Flores, Tapia (Cartagena 84), Yotun (Ruidiaz 69), Carrillo (Polo 69), Farfan (Hurtado 81), Cueva (Aquino 80). Subs not used: Gallese, Santamaria, Araujo, Caceda, Pena, Loyola, Abram.
Scotland: Archer, O’Donnell, Mulgrew, McKenna, Stevenson, McGeouch (Shinnie 76), McLean (Cadden 87), McTominay, McGinn (Paterson 63), Murphy (McBurnie 63), Phillips (Morgan 72). Subs not used: McLaughlin, Hendry, Christie, Russell, Bain.