Abstract : We study the scaling properties of a one-dimensional interface at equilibrium, at finite temperature and in a disordered environment with a finite disorder correlation length. We focus our approach on the scalings of its geometrical fluctuations as a function of its length. At large lengthscales, the roughness of the interface, defined as the variance of its endpoint fluctuations, follows a power-law behaviour whose exponent characterises its superdiffusive behaviour. In 1+1 dimensions, the roughness exponent is known to be the characteristic 2/3 exponent of the Kardar-Parisi-Zhang (KPZ) universality class. An important feature of the model description is that its Flory exponent, obtained by a power counting argument on its Hamiltonian, is equal to 3/5 and thus does not yield the correct KPZ roughness exponent. In this work, we review the available power-counting options, and relate the physical validity of the exponent values that they predict, to the existence (or not) of well-defined optimal trajectories in a large-size or low-temperature asymptotics. We identify the crucial role of the 'cut-off' lengths of the problem (the disorder correlation length and the system size), which one has to carefully follow throughout the scaling analysis. To complement the latter, we device a novel Gaussian Variational Method (GVM) scheme to compute the roughness, taking into account the effect of a large but finite interface length. Interestingly, such a procedure yields the correct KPZ roughness exponent, instead of the Flory exponent usually obtained through the GVM approach for an infinite interface. We explain the physical origin of this improvement of the GVM procedure and discuss possible extensions of this work to other disordered systems.