EDINBURGH’s 16-10 defeat by Glasgow last week might have meant a miserable Christmas for their players, but it also had an encouraging aspect to it as they look ahead to tomorrow night’s return match at BT Murrayfield.

After all, that six-point defeat was just about as close as any opposition has come to winning at Scotstoun in the league this year. What is more, the capital club managed to earn that losing bonus point despite passing up a couple of scoring opportunities from open play, not to mention the two penalties missed by the normally ultra-reliable Emiliano Boffelli.

Grant Gilchrist, for one, is certain that his squad can take some confidence from that first 1872 Cup match into the second and final leg. The lock forward believes that Edinburgh had enough of the ball to win that game, and is convinced that they can turn the tables on their old rivals at home provided they are clinical when it matters most.

“We put a lot into the game, but we felt we just weren’t accurate enough to take the chances that we created,” said Gilchrist, who shares the captaincy duties at Edinburgh with Scotland skipper Jamie Ritchie. “I can’t really fault the effort of the boys: I thought going to Scotstoun we gave ourselves the opportunity to win, which not a lot of teams do. They’re a good side.

“And it’s fine margins. We’re talking about moments when we just weren’t accurate enough or switched on enough, and that’s the difference between winning and losing. 

“When we were 15 metres out and we knocked the ball on from a lineout, we were five metres out and we knocked the ball on . . . We were creating some good opportunities to score and in that weather” - it rained for much of the match, making handling difficult - “the hard work is getting yourself into that position. But we have to be more accurate. 

“We also understand that we have to do the things we did well last week again - and even better. Because the nature of back-to-back games is the opposition identify the things you do well in the first game and come after them in the second. So I expect it to be a harder game than the week before - it always is.”

Of course, in order to turn chances into points, you first of all have to create those chances - and to do that you have to achieve parity, at least, in the physical battle. If there were times in the Scotstoun match when Edinburgh were second best in that aspect of the game, after the break in particular they were at least as competitive. 

Now 32, Gilchrist is closing in on 200 competitive appearances for the team, having made his debut back in 2011. And he knows from his lengthy experience of the derby that the formula for success consists of that simple, two-step process: first ensure you hold your own physically, then take the chances that you are able to create. 

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“To get access to a derby you have to bring the attitude on the physical side of the game,” he continued. “Then if both teams do that, it’s about accuracy and execution.

“The games we have played really well - the game at the end of last season, for example [a 28-11 win over the Warriors at BT Murrayfield which saw the home side win the Cup by a four-point aggregate] - we were physically and mentally on it and we executed really well. 

“Every derby game the attitude and mindset has to be there, otherwise you won’t be in with a chance of winning. But if both teams bring that, it’s then about who can be more accurate. We weren’t more accurate than Glasgow last week, so we have to be better this week.”

Both teams always like to talk up the importance of the 1872 Cup, and, in this 150th-anniversary year of the fixture, the trophy has arguably taken on an additional importance. Yet while there is an extra sense of history attached to these two matches, for Gilchrist and his colleagues the here-and-now is surely of greater relevance.  

Yes, with just that six-point deficit to overcome from last Friday, Edinburgh have a realistic chance of retaining the Cup. Above all, however, they could do with the league points, having last won in the URC when they beat Cardiff in Wales at the end of October.

True, they only played once in November, losing at Benetton. But this month they have been beaten badly by Munster as well as narrowly by the Warriors, and after last week’s defeat they are now down in 10th place in the 16-team table.

“We need to win,” Gilchrist added. “We’d love to win the Cup, of course we would, but we have to win the game. We have to win the game, and that’s our mindset.”