James Forrest had scored a hat-trick on his previous outing for Scotland but suffered like every one of his team-mates against Kazakhstan.
The Celtic winger passed up one opportunity to cut the three-goal deficit with a volley just before the hour mark. He miskicked when he should have burst the net.
Everything he did turned to gold in November against Israel when he became the first Celtic player to score three times for Scotland since Jimmy Quinn over a hundred years earlier.
It was the other extreme two days ago when he and his team-mates could not put a foot right. But he insists Scotland have the talent and, perhaps more importantly, the character to turn things round in the group after such a dismal start, starting against bottom seeds San Marino tomorrow.
“It couldn’t have gone worse with it being the first game of the campaign, it’s really disappointing,” said the 27-year-old. “We have to try and lift ourselves and take three points forward on Sunday.
“The last camp was probably the best time I’d had ever being away with Scotland – there was a real feel-good factor and now we’ve had this terrible night and we have to pick ourselves up.
“We were all right for the first few minutes but it meant nothing after they scored and then scored again not long after the first one. From there, they grew in confidence. We didn’t get started at all.”
Forrest said he was reminded of the last time he played in the Astana Arena. Celtic suffered a shock as they sought to defend a seemingly unassailable 5-0 first-leg lead in last season’s Champions League qualifier against FC Astana. They were briefly 4-1 down before rallying to lose 4-3, winning the tie 8-4 on aggregate.
“I’ve been here a couple of times with Celtic and it felt similar to that time we were 4-1 down – they scored and grew in confidence and we were sloppy in possession and just never really got going,” he said. “We can talk but everyone was here and felt good and were working on things, but we never got going.
“Obviously, after the last camp we topped the group in the last couple of games and it proves we’ve got the players. We’ve just got to show it more on the park. We didn’t do that against Kazakhstan but hopefully we can redeem ourselves on Sunday and then we’ve got two games in the summer to kick start what we didn’t start tonight.”