Jon Sleightholme - Robshaw’s underdogs can deliver the goods

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I can’t remember the last time Scotland went into a Calcutta Cup game as favourites.

Even though they have beaten England on a few occasions over the last decade, the ‘Auld enemy’ have always gone into the historic clash carrying the weight of expectation on their shoulders.

This time it’s different. Scotland are the most settled they have been for some while, and despite their exit to an England side in disarray at the World Cup, they have improved immeasurably under Andy Robinson’s tutelage.

It must be an uncomfortable feeling for the Scots not being in their usual role of underdogs, and the mind games from Robinson have already started with him accusing England of arrogance at the World Cup.

Well Robbo my old mate, things have changed a bit since then so that will not stick.

No matter how Scotland try and spin it this week, most people expect them to win.

The pressure is absolutely on them, and I am not convinced that sits very well with the Scottish psyche, and that could just be the chink in their armour that England need.

I truly believe that this England side could spring a surprise on Scotland.

There are no videos for Robinson to analyse in advance, no form to go on and new players and new England combinations for Scotland to get their head around.

While gelling that all together is a huge challenge for England, it is also a concern for Scotland.

They really don’t know what to expect and that will have their coaching team sitting very uneasily in their seats on Saturday evening.

Coaches and the players love to watch plenty of videos in the build up to games to look for patterns and weakness in the opposition.

But there is very little for Scotland to work on and that will undoubtedly make them nervous.

Everything I am hearing coming out of the England camp is promising.

Humility, respect and a passion to do the jersey proud is as good a start as we could have hoped for at this stage.

Stuart Lancaster has clearly kept the players on their toes by mixing and matching different combinations around.

His decisions have been made slightly more complicated with the likes of Toby Flood, Manu Tuilagi, Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes being out for at least the first game as they would all been definite starters in most people’s first-choice XV.

However, one player’s misfortune provides an opportunity for another and, despite missing such key experienced names, there is still enough quality in the ranks to cause the home side some headaches.

Chris Robshaw, I have no doubt, will lead England really well as captain and he has handled the speculation around the role really well.

The fact that he has been named for the first two games tells me the door is still wide open for the likes of Tom Wood to lay his marker down when he is fit.

But in the meantime, Robshaw will be determined to make that role his permanently.

He has talked about a group of leaders, all capable of leading and making big calls and he is exactly right – it’s not all about one man.

The best sides always have groups of leaders that can accept the mantle of responsibility and Robshaw can lean on the likes of Dylan Hartley, Charlie Hodgson and Tom Croft as experienced internationals.

There will be speculation about his place in the team, particularly when all the back row players are fit, but I have a feeling he will be around in an England shirt for some time.

He has exactly the right type of attitude to do well.

Tactically, the pressure is also on Scotland. They have struggled to score tries over the last year or so and heavily relied on their kicking game.

The metronomic Chris Paterson has retired so they don’t have that safety blanket.

If they are really to cause England problems, their selection will tell us a great deal.

I believe they need to adopt the Edinburgh approach to playing the game by taking off the shackles and playing with some ambition.

If it is an Edinburgh-biased selection, particularly at half-back with the pairing of Mike Blair and Greig Laidlaw, that surely makes a statement about the way Scotland want to play as opposed to the less risky approach of picking Chris Cusiter and Dan Parks.

This is probably the only occasion that England have ever had of having a totally free licence in terms of how they want to play.

The players will be encouraged to play with that freedom.

I would prefer to see them focusing on performance rather than worrying about a result.

The new broom has definitely swept clean all the ills of the recent World Cup debacle, and I believe on Saturday we will see an England side that we can once again be proud of.