The likes of Europe's traditional superpowers, Germany and Italy, can point to many eras where they had both players and teams that once had a purple patch.
The main one will be your likes of France, the former Czechoslovakia, Holland and England who had one major international trophy to show for their efforts.
Behind them would be those who came to within the brink of success - Hungary, Belgium, Poland and Sweden to name but four.
Then you have those who didn't get near to winning anything but had an era where they more than ruffled a few feathers and have their exploits talked about for years on end.
Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria for example.
There's one nation that wouldn't even get near the last category, let alone the other two - Scotland.
Which shows you what a mess we've made of developing and progressing the game in our country to the point where it can justify its presence on the big stage.
We've had the players but could never get them to gel as a team come a major international tournament.
As it's been years, if not decades, since we last claimed to 'have the players', you might as well kiss goodbye to the big day in the sun ever being achieved in the dark blue of Scotland.
Smug complacency from yesteryear of Scotland "bein' ra best n'that" didn't help.
Neither would behind the scenes incompetency from the Scottish Football Association.
The ineptitude from the SFA still remains but we've not felt smug about any player wearing a Scotland shirt since Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness last played for us.
The record books will state that Alan Hutton has won more caps than Hughie Gallacher ever did, but that fact alone insults the talent of the latter.
And when someone as poor a player as Hutton (who plays football worse than a number 11 bats in cricket) is a regular pick, you know how low the standards have sunk in Scottish football.
"Ah bit we don't huv ra playerzzz ony mair"...
It might have been an idea to have done something when we did have them.
Lawrie Reilly, Denis Law, Jim Baxter, the aforementioned Dalglish and Souness but yet we contrived to shoot ourselves in the foot or be shown up to be so far behind other nations who actually got on with the job of 'football development'.
Of course international football is a different animal to club level.
Brian Clough was once asked how it was that English clubs (such as his Nottingham Forest side) could win European trophies in the 1970s only for the England team itself not to qualify for two World Cups in succession.
He answered that in international football, you only meet up for X-amount of days per year and have so little time to gel. Whereas in club football, the team is there all the time and each player knows the other inside out.
The great international sides would be those who could gel in an instant.- something that Scotland have struggled to do.
Not to mention Scottish football suffering from a case of 'admiring the view' instead of scaling a higher mountain.
Being thrashed 7-0 by Uruguay in the 1954 World Cup should have been as clear a message if ever there was one that a radical review of the Scottish game was needed.
There wasn't. It was a fluke - a one-off. We could still get the odd decent result against 'Johnny Foreigner' and as long as we beat England every year, what's the problem?
A narrow attitude that held us back - yes Jim Baxter playing keepie-up at Wembley Stadium in 1967 as we became the first team to beat England after they had won the World Cup the year before.
That victory (with the subsequent boxing logic applied to it) of us becoming 'world champions' (naw we didnae) has gone down in folklore with each retelling of the story becoming more flowery by the day.
What is never mentioned is that days later, Scotland were run ragged by George Best in a defeat to Northern Ireland that ultimately ensured that England qualified for the 1968 European Championship by one point at our expense.
The 1978 World Cup in Argentina was clearly a chance lost for Scotland to actually do something at a major tournament.
Winning it as Ally MacLeod, the then manager, once famously boasted that we would do? That might have been pushing it somewhat but the second group stage should have been achieved at the very least.
Why wasn't it. Poor scouting on MacLeod's part, an over-reliance on the 'gallus' Scottish attitude, poor professionalism by some of the players (Lou Macari and others arguing about bonus money after we lost to Peru) and the SFA bungling the facilities for the team in terms of accommodation and training facilities.
Plus we might have not actually been that great in the first place. Yes we pulled off that 3-2 win against Holland but no matter how great Archie Gemmell's goal was, it papered up the cracks.
The first boss I ever worked for told me of the time he attended the first press conference Jock Stein held as Scotland manager when he succeeded MacLeod.
Stein, who had become a genuine legend of the game via his managerial exploits with Celtic, apparently left the reporters in attendance open-mouthed by saying: "We (Scotland) have to learn how to pass the ball to each other."
Not to say that Scotland were so bad that they couldn't even pass water, but in comparison to Brazil, Italy, Argentina and West Germany et al, we were miles behind those nations in terms of keeping the ball.
After all, if the opposition don't have the ball, they can't hurt you - only Scotland were being hurt on numerous occasions. Far too much for Stein's liking.
Heaven knows what he would make of the current Scotland team's attempts at retaining possession. Remember, this team would have no business being on the same park as his side.
There is also the small nation argument but when you see other nations of similar size - or smaller - utilise their meagre resources to the point where they can punch above their weight (check Iceland and Albania qualifying for Euro 2016), then it's obvious that there are people at Hampden who are not doing anything to deserve their inflated wage packets.
In terms of infrastructure, we have been better equipped than some nations who are bigger than us in terms of population only to be overtaken.
Poland are one such example. No longer supported by the state following the collapse of communism, the Polish football authorities were left to their own meagre devices and effectively had to build from scratch.
When interviewed for Jonathan Wilson's "Behind The Curtain" back in 2005, Martin Stefanski of the Polish League (PZPN) commented on the poor state of the game in that nation a decade ago.
Participation in the sport (from a population of 40million) was at 500,000. Compared to the United Kingdom as a whole, pitches for kids to play on in Poland were nowhere near as widely available as they are for British children.
Not to mention a lack of appetite to build the game from the grassroots up - as Stefanski said in Wilson's book, "there are no grassroots".
A decade on and something has clearly changed. Poland may never match the success that its national side enjoyed between 1972-86, but the talent is once again there to make an attempt.
They have caught up. Albania have caught up. So have Iceland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Those already ahead of us - like Belgium - now look like never being caught by us.
An attitude of "ach things will work oot ferrus wan day" still envelopes Scottish footballing culture.
It's been suffocating us since we first entered the process of World Cup qualifying.
Due to decades of complacency and neglect, we are now in the oxygen tent.
And unless those who run the game from top to bottom drop the 'gallus' act, show some humility and begin with a clean slate with minds open to new ways of thinking, you can forget about qualifying ever again.
If it takes a decade to do this, then so be it - as long as we can see that something radical is being done to improve our lot for the long term.
Otherwise why bother?