Edinburgh step into the unknown in the beginning of a Moscow winter this afternoon but with confidence they will avoid the fate of reigning Challenge Cup champions Stade Francais to take a firm grip on their pool.
Getting the game with Krasny Yar played before pitches became frozen has maybe helped Edinburgh twice, given that they could now finish the first fortnight of the competition with two away wins under their belt and all three home fixtures to come, while the Siberian side have had to decamp from their home where they upset Stade to better playing conditions in the Russian capital.
That result meant Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill looked at the tapes a little more thoroughly than he had expected to.
“Their first game in Europe against the champions of the competition, it was like a cup final for them,” he pointed out. “I think they were very much up for the contest and the battle.
“They are very combative as you would imagine, but they actually played some good rugby as well. When they had penalties they kicked to the corner, took advantage, and scored tries from those set plays.
“If we play how we can and control the game as we’d like to and physically we front up, I think we’ll win. If we’re sloppy and don’t get it right physically we might have problems.”
There’s a huge difference for the “hosts”, who have had to fly as far as Edinburgh to get to a home fixture.
“The pitch is good, the stadium’s obviously quite small and compact,” added the coach. “They’ve had to travel too, and I don’t think there is any travelling support making the five-hour flight from Krasny Yar to Moscow.
“It will be down to us to make our own atmosphere. How much of an advantage it is we’ll see.”
Cockerill is determined that a good start in Europe will translate to more consistent form in the league, which hasn’t always been the case for Edinburgh.
“This may seem like a less important game from the outside but a good win tomorrow puts us in pole position to go through,” he said. “It would also mean three wins on the bounce going into two very important league games, coming up, so it’s a very important period for us.”
The head coach has shuffled his hand, will give first starts this season to Lewis Carnicahel and Luke Crosbie, and impressive force off the bench in the last two games and a try-scorer against London Irish in the win last week.
He also recalls Blair Kinghorn, James Johnstone, Tom Brown and Anton Bresler and expects them “to add real energy”.
Fijian Vili Mata is also on the bench for the first time this season, and Neil Cochrane is recalled to be hooker and captain with Ross Ford still trying to shake off a calf issue.
Edinburgh (vs Krasny Yar, European Challenge Cup at Fili Stadium, Moscow, ko 10 am BST): Blair Kinghorn, Damien Hoyland, James Johnstone, Junior Rasolea, Tom Brown; Jason Tovey, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; Allan Dell, Neil Cochrane, WP Nel; Anton Bresler, Grant Gilchrist; Lewis Carmichael, Luke Crosbie, Cornell du Preez.
Replacements: Stuart McInally, Darryl Marfo, Simon Berghan, Fraser McKenzie, Viliame Mata, Nathan Fowles, Chris Dean, Glenn Bryce.