Scotland will on February 4 tackle England at Murrayfield in the RBS 6 Nations without the services of Paterson, who has called time on a career which included record hauls of 109 caps and 809 points.
Paterson anticipates the Calcutta Cup contest will be the moment full realisation comes that he will never again wear the dark blue jersey he wore with distinction and pride for 12 years and through four Rugby World Cup tournaments.
"That's when it will hit home," said the 33-year-old. "There's highlights every time you take the field.
"I was lucky enough to win a first cap, which was special, but to then play in a 50th and 100th is something that springs to mind as a highlight."
Paterson, who will be 34 in March, made his debut in the 1999 World Cup versus Spain before becoming a regular in the inaugural Six Nations in 2000.
He appeared at fly-half, wing and full-back and surpassed Gavin Hastings as Scotland's leading points scorer and Scott Murray's cap record on the 2008 tour to Argentina.
He won his 100th cap against Wales in Cardiff in 2010 but suffered a lacerated kidney in the match.
Paterson, who captained Scotland on 12 occasions between 2004 and 2007, demonstrated his resilience, returning in the November 2010 win over South Africa and forcing his way into the starting line-up during the 2011 Six Nations.
He was first-choice full-back during the disappointing World Cup campaign in New Zealand, but has now opted to give way to the next generation of talent.
His final appearance - the narrow World Cup loss to England at Eden Park - will stay in the memory. Paterson savoured every moment, just as he did every time he played for Scotland, but even more so because he knew it might well be the last time.
While the prospect of retiring immediately after the World Cup was considered, the decision was made at the end of November following consultation with family and friends, Scotland head coach Andy Robinson and current and former team-mates.
"The big emotion is pride and happiness," Paterson added. "I've made the decision, which I think is the right decision.
"It's a terribly hard decision to make and one you don't want to have to make, but you do have to make it.
"When you do make it on your own terms, in your time, at the right time, it's a lot easier."
Paterson, who began his career with Gala, before two spells with Edinburgh, either side of a short stint at Gloucester, has been hampered by a groin injury of late, impacting on his place-kicking, which is world-renowned. He insisted it was not a factor in his decision.
He landed 36 successive shots at goal between August 2007 and June 2008 and his unerring accuracy with the boot was celebrated by French sports daily L'Equipe during the 2007 World Cup.
One record which proved elusive for Paterson was the try-scoring record jointly held by Tony Stanger and Ian Smith and which stands at 24.
Paterson has 22 tries for Scotland, but last crossed the try-line in the 2007 World Cup against Romania at Murrayfield.
His 809 points includes 22 tries, 170 penalties, 90 conversions and three drop goals.
Glasgow Warriors duo Rory Lamont and 19-year-old Stuart Hogg and Hugo Southwell of Wasps will be expected to compete for Scotland's full-back berth in the Six Nations.
Paterson, meanwhile, is set to continue his club career with Edinburgh, for whom he is under contract until the end of the season, with the option of a further year.
But he will remain available for guidance, should Scotland head coach Andy Robinson need assistance.
Paterson said: "I'm now a fan like everyone else and if I can help in any way, I'd be delighted to do so. "Hopefully I'll be able to do that."
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