Scotland came within touching distance of a famous win over Australia at Murrayfield last weekend only to slip to a narrow 23-22 defeat.
But Cotter was frustrated as his side contributed to their own downfall by welcoming the Wallabies forward in the closing stages. Despite having the opportunity to hold Michael Cheika’s team at bay, Scotland succumbed late on to Bernard Foley’s decisive kick.
It was another painful lesson for a side who have made a habit of suffering defeats from winning positions in recent years.
Cotter has spent the week since making clear to his players that the Pumas are just as capable of pouncing if they are also let loose, but believes the penny has dropped.
He said: “Nobody likes losing, but the honesty within the group first thing on Monday was a down-to-earth analysis of what did we actually contribute to that game. It was a very close-cut thing, only one point, but we were pretty tough on ourselves that Monday and the players were pretty tough on themselves.
“We don’t want to contribute to the same extent against Argentina. We’re looking at discipline, decision-making close to the line, not precipitating things, taking time, waiting for structure to be in place and then power up on them.
“I thought defensively we did well at the weekend and we want to improve our set-piece defence. Australia scored two tries from set-piece last weekend. It was the first hit-out in the autumn and there were things that we focused on. Now the players are determined to do better.
“We know Argentina are very dangerous with the ball, so we’d like to keep it away from them at times for as long as we can. We are making sure there is clear understanding of what we want to achieve this week, trying to keep them away from the ball and hopefully we’re going to positively determine the outcome by doing that.”
Last week’s defeat hurt more than just Scottish pride.
Richie Gray was left with a suspected concussion following a bruising encounter while flanker John Hardie is still nursing knee, ankle, and head injuries which could rule him out until the new year.
The latter’s injury has opened the door for Edinburgh back-rower Magnus Bradbury to make his international debut at blindside, although there is no room for his South Africa-born club-mate Cornell Du Preez, a late call up earlier this week.
Cotter — who has also recalled hooker Fraser Brown, lock Grant Gilchrist and wing Tommy Seymour to his starting lineup — admits the injuries are a frustration but believes Bradbury is ready to grasp his big opportunity.
“Magnus was named originally because he’s been playing well for his club,” he said.
“He’s impressed us in training and now with a couple of injuries, he gets a chance.
“We’re playing a team that moves the ball pretty quickly. Magnus is athletic and well balanced between attack and defence, he’s not a one-dimensional player. He can jump in the line-out and turnover ball he carries well.”