Laidlaw: Scotland need to forget about losing run and focus on beating Italy
Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw aims to put their losing run in the RBS 6 Nations out of his mind in Rome on Saturday - but he is well aware they need to beat Italy.
Scotland have lost their last nine Six Nations games but Laidlaw is convinced their opening two defeats this year - by a total of nine points against England and Wales - have not derailed the progress made during the World Cup campaign.
And the Gloucester scrum-half will put the damning statistic to one side as they focus on turning their tournament around in Italy.
Laidlaw said: "It's hugely important for Scottish rugby, but once we take to the field on Saturday we won't be concerning ourselves with that stat.
"We can't go into the field thinking about all these things because chances are we are even more likely to lose. It puts extra pressure on players and it clouds judgement.
"We will simply be worrying about process, doing one job well and then moving on the next job. If you do that you get better and better and it spreads confidence.
"If we do that for 80 minutes, we reckon we will come away with the right result.
"We will simply focus on the Italian game. You can see they are a sticky team, they stay in games and had a close loss over in France and were in the game against England up until 55-60 minutes.
"It will be tight but if we stay the course we think we will win."
Despite his frustration over the opening defeats, Laidlaw is positive about the weekend rather than burdened by the potential fallout from another defeat.
"I'm delighted to be in the jersey again, it's something you never take for granted," the 30-year-old said. "I'm excited and looking forward to the game.
"There's nobody that feels a Scotland loss more than me. I take it tough, I probably don't speak to people for a couple of days.
"I'm desperate to get a win just as much as every Scottish fan is, if not more. I'll be doing everything in my powers to get us a positive result this weekend.
"I know people probably get annoyed with us saying it, but we truly believe we are not far away. And I think everyone can see it.
"And that probably makes it even more frustrating for everybody because we are so close to getting positive results and we are in these matches.
"We feel as a team we are hugely improved and we just need to get a little bit more out of each other and get across the line.
"We will take any win, there is no denying that. That's what it's about, winning, and we are not going to shy away from that and make excuses.
"Any of them can play well and get beat, that's not good enough, we need to win games. That's our plan this weekend and there are three games left in the championship.
"We are staying positive, if we can win this weekend we have a home game after that."
Scotland's recent Six Nations tussles with Italy have been billed, more accurately than not, as wooden spoon deciders.
But Laidlaw will look to their recent victory over Samoa at St James' Park as inspiration.
"In the Italian game in the past we have maybe tried to change what we do and we will probably go away from that this time round and concentrate on playing good rugby," he said.
"We can use our experiences and look back to the Samoa game in the World Cup.
"That was a must-win game and there were times in that game when we were behind and nobody panicked. We were calm, we were in control and we played for 80 minutes.
"We will need that this weekend because we need to win this weekend as well. It's about doing your job and having that freedom to back your skill-set and go out there and show what you've got."