Scotland are hoping that the pain incurred on their last trip to Amsterdam will serve some useful purpose as they seek to give their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying hopes a shot in the arm by upsetting Group 9 favourites the Netherlands on Saturday.

Recent history suggests that will be a tall order. Scotland's last visit to the Amsterdam Arena ended in a chastening 6-0 defeat in a November 2003 play-off for a place at UEFA EURO 2004 and the Dutch, outstanding in the group stages at EURO 2008, are arguably a stronger side now than they were then.

Scotland though have also taken significant steps forward since the dark days of Berti Vogts' regime and, after running France and Italy close in the battle to reach EURO 2008, are hopeful they can make next year's FIFA World Cup in South Africa their first major tournament appearance since France 1998. With the Dutch already five points clear, Scotland's best chance of qualifying would appear to be via the play-off spots available to the runners-up in the section.

As a result, next Wednesday's home clash with Iceland is seen as the more important fixture of the Scots' two upcoming matches, with anything obtained in Amsterdam to be regarded as a bonus.  Injuries which have deprived Scotland manager George Burley of first-choice centre-half Stephen McManus and the experience of Rangers defender David Weir and Celtic midfielder Paul Hartley among others have not helped the cause.

However, Hartley's Celtic team-mate Scott Brown, who will be part of what will almost certainly be a five-man midfield, insists a positive result should not be ruled out, particularly if the Dutch allow memories of the 2003 meeting to contaminate their approach to the match.

We want to upset their rhythm so we can't just sit back with 10 men behind the ball. We have to attack when it is right to do so and try to create a few chances.

Scott Brown insists Scotland won't sit in.

"Hopefully they think 'it's just Scotland' and think they can get five or six goals and we can maybe surprise them," Brown said. "If you look at what we did when we beat France in Paris, it shows it can be done. We defended well and James McFadden scored a great goal to win it."

The Scots will miss the injured McFadden's match-winning ability, instead relying on Kenny Miller to operate as a lone striker and Brown identified the balance between containment and counter-punching as the key to his side's chances.

"It will probably be one of the biggest tests of our careers because they have pace, strength and players who can control the ball," Brown added. "I wonder, though, if they like people getting in their faces and putting them under pressure. Maybe they will then make mistakes.

"We want to upset their rhythm so we can't just sit back with 10 men behind the ball. We have to attack when it is right to do so and try to create a few chances.  They throw so many people forward there is always a chance they can leave space for us to counter-attack."

Former England boss Steve McClaren, now coaching Dutch top flight side Twente, is among those who believe the Scots have a chance, even though he regards the current Dutch generation as good enough to lift the World Cup in South Africa next year.

"I think the Dutch team, with the players and the talent they have, are capable of winning a tournament and are capable of beating anybody on their day in the world. The first thing you have to do against a Dutch team is to stop them playing. You have to be organised, disciplined and very compact as a team - and if you do that, you will frustrate them.

"Then you have to take your opportunities on the break, because that's where they have an Achilles heel."