Edinburgh’s head coach had admitted that his side has an unfair advantage as they head into tomorrow’s final round of scheduled Pro14 Conference fixtures, but he also acknowledges that if results elsewhere do not help them, their derby meeting with Glasgow Warriors will be a major test of their collective bottle.

The former England hooker has steered his team through what will, regardless of the result at BT Murrayfield, represent their best season in terms of win/lose ratio and they could yet earn a home semi-final in the play-offs should the reigning champion Scarlets fail to secure the expected bonus-point victory over Welsh rivals the Dragons.

However, they may also miss out on the play-offs altogether if Ulster claim a full five points in their all-Irish clash with Munster and Edinburgh take nothing from Glasgow.

They will know exactly what is required, which Cockerill knows is quite wrong in competitive terms. 

“Because of the bizarre set-up that we play last, it’s an unfair advantage in so many ways. If it was the other way around I’d be complaining like f**k right now about how crap the tourn-ament is,” he said.

That, though, will only exacerbate any disappointment should they now fail to make the play-offs, not least because it would represent a 20-point turn-around in the final few weeks of the season, since Ulster had to win all three of their matches with bonus points when the sides met in Edinburgh three weeks ago, while Edinburgh needed only six of the 15 points then available to them. Taking into account the national team’s on-going issues when opportunities present themselves, legitimate questions can be asked around Scottish players’ psyche as Warriors backs coach Jason O’Halloran did last week and Cockerill did not dodge the issue either.

“It will be interesting,” he said. “As for the expectation of this season we are probably over where we expected to be. This is another test for us... a great test for us to see where we are at.

“Glasgow are genuine contenders to win the title. The expectation is more on them. They have the better players and bigger budget. It is as simple as that. The pressure is on them to get back on form. Their form has not been great, however, in a couple of big games, Cardiff and Ulster, we have lost our bottle a little bit as well. Now we are genuinely in a position to compete with the good sides when we get it right we need to see if we can do it again.”

For all the successes the national team and the country’s two professional teams have had this season, their track records in matches that matter, as evidenced by the following list, has been disturbing:

Scotland got into a position to claim a first victory against the All Blacks but came up short

• Glasgow went into the Champions Cup with the best domestic record 
in Europe, but lost their first five matches

•Glasgow were gifted the upper hand in the 1872 Cup when, 10-0 up, their opponents had a man sent off, yet lost to Edinburgh’s 14 men

• Edinburgh could have secured the trophy in Glasgow  a week later but failed to register a point

• Scotland travelled to Wales expecting to win an opening-day match in the Six Nations for just the second time in 19 attempts and were thrashed

• Glasgow’s full squad came together after the Six Nations looking to make a statement against the reigning champ-ions but let Scarlets register a bonus point win

• Edinburgh held home advantage in the European Challenge Cup 
quarter-final but suffered their first Murrayfield defeat of the season to Cardiff that day

• Edinburgh had a chance to guarantee their place in the Pro14 play-offs and achieve their season’s goal of securing a Champions Cup spot for next season by beating Ulster on their home turf, yet potentially crucially, not only lost but allowed their opponents to secure a bonus point and failed to claim one themselves 

• Glasgow then had another chance to show what they could do against title rivals and also ensure that no awkward questions could be raised about the outcome of their meeting with Edinburgh, when they went to Ulster last week and similarly let the Irish province claim a bonus point win.

The impression created is that for all the emphasis placed on surrounding Scottish players with positive noises, they continue to struggle whenever there is expectation that they do well, rather than them going into big matches as rank outsiders.

Dave Rennie, the Warriors head coach went some way towards 
defending his men of that charge, pointing to the better wins they have had.

“Bar Munster, we are the only other side to win in South Africa against the Cheetahs, and we stole that game pretty late. We played pretty well against Munster here. I think there have been plenty of big games when we have fronted well so I don’t see it being an issue,” was his rejoinder.

“In Europe, it was a hell of a pool, wasn’t it? Exeter still leading England, Montpellier still leading France, Leinster who are clearly a great side, and us.  Look, we learnt from that... [and] you don’t get yourself in this sort of spot without getting a few things right earlier in the year.”