As he departed the Murrayfield library following the last of his pre-match press conferences in his first season in Scotland’s capital, Richard Cockerill pointed at a picture on the wall of the Calcutta Cup.

“We’ve just lent it to you for a year,” he observed, which was utterly typical of the pugnacious, dyed-in-the-wool Englishman.

But Cockerill, hard for anyone other than a Leicester Tigers or England supporter to like during his playing days, is growing ever more popular north of the border now that he is professionally, if not emotionally, committed to Scotland’s cause as Edinburgh’s head coach.

In taking on that commitment he has brought a level of understanding of what it takes to win not seen in Scottish rugby since Todd Blackadder headed back to New Zealand 13 years ago and has made rapid progress.

On reflection the apparent misstep of appointing Magnus Bradbury as club captain, only to be let-down when the youngster misbehaved on a night out, worked to his advantage, accelerating changes to the internal culture, but also challenging the approach to communicating with the outside world.

While, willingly or otherwise, Cockerill went along with an initial attempt to keep the matter quiet, he almost seemed relieved when it became public, since when he has been very open when asked direct questions.

A promising early start having briefly stalled amid those off-field distractions – also involving now departed international back-row forward, John Hardie – a playing style that is in keeping with the coach’s character has developed, as he has taught his team how to fight to stay in matches to give themselves chances they are increasingly managing to take.

Admittedly that did not carry into their two knockout matches, but in the month or so that separated those there was a marked difference as a failure to land a meaningful blow on Cardiff Blues in a European Challenge Cup final was followed by Saturday’s gutsy performance in losing by just four points to a Munster side that, a fortnight earlier, had contested a European Champions Cup semi-final.

In between times reclaiming the 1872 Challenge Cup from Glasgow Warriors completed a fine day on which their season’s ambition of qualifying for the Pro14 play-offs and Champions Cup, both for the first time, was achieved and an already competitive side should be even edgier next year with Cockerill now committed to the long-term having had a chance to assess resources and shape his squad.

In those terms there have been multiple successes with youthful talent, most obviously that of Blair Kinghorn, but also forwards Murray McCallum, another to gain a first cap during the Six Nations, Luke Crosbie and Jamie Ritchie, while powerful winger Duhan van der Merwe looks as if he will be quite a proposition by the time his three-year residency is completed.

Bradbury learned rapidly from his indiscretion, while Dougie Fife and James Johnstone have seized chances to return from the sevens squad, the previously unknown Darryl Marfo, hired to plug a gap, did a fine job for Scotland in the autumn.

Perhaps best of all has been the maximising of back-row turned hooker Stuart McInally’s potential, while Simon Berghan’s scrummaging has been transformed and Grant Gilchrist again looks like the player who was given the Scotland captaincy in Vern Cotter’s early days, while there were signs at the weekend that Mark Bennett is regaining his sharpness after recovering from injury and adjusting to his move along the M8.

Cockerill has, meanwhile, made it clear he will fight for Edinburgh’s right to be resourced as well as their rivals, the first major test of which will be his attempt to prise one of their trio of Scotland squad scrum-halves from Glasgow, perhaps ideally the experienced Henry Pyrgos.

On that note the Scotland captain John Barclay’s arrival will be good for both Edinburgh and an ageing player whose workload can 
be managed to everyone’s best interest; the prospect of Matt Scott’s return will only add to the options in that fast improving back-line.

A promising beginning, then, with the prospect of better to come and Cockerill’s involvement is also likely to ensure that plans to give Edinburgh a home ground fit for purpose on Murrayfield’s back pitches will at last be implemented. English to the core, Cockerill looks to be just what Scotland’s rugby capital has long needed.