Dave Rennie hopes that Glasgow profligacy with scoring chances at Murrayfield last week is just a blip and that their ruthless form will return in the second leg of the 1872 Cup back home at Scotstoun.
Still chastened by the 18-17 defeat to 14 men in the first leg, Rennie banned all rugby talk at Christmas dinner where he hosted 27 people, including all the “orphans”, the club’s foreign contingent who don’t have their own families in Scotland.
But it was back to serious business at Scotstoun, although a review has convinced the Kiwi that it was an attitude problem rather than tactical which caused the embarrassment.
“They out-passioned us,” he said of Edinburgh. “The boys are hurting about that, and they are keen to redeem themselves for our supporters, who deserve better.
“It was hugely disappointing for everyone involved. We created a hell of a lot of opportunities and when we reviewed there were so many times when if we’d scored the game would have been gone.
“It just highlights that attitude is crucial and I just don’t think we were sharp enough at the weekend.
“You’ve got to be clinical and take our opportunities. We have been converting them down at the other end of the field this season pretty well, but if you don’t get it right and you don’t have the attitude quite right then you get hurt.
“We didn’t put Edinburgh away and to their credit they hung in there and forced the issue right at the end. But it’s not good enough and we need to be better this week.”
Glasgow have rung the changes, bringing back Finn Russell to start and restoring young Matt Fagerson to bring a bit more pace at No 8.
Kiran McDonald starts in the second row for the rested Scott Cummings, while Nick Grigg comes in for Huw Jones and Niko Matawalu for Tommy Seymour, who has a toe injury which will now require a couple of weeks of rest.
It means Alex Dunbar aside it’s not the most physically imposing back line Glasgow can field. Back row choices are also limited given the continuing absence of Ryan Wilson, Calum Gibbins and Adam Ashe.
“Matt Fagerson was available last week but we decided not to use him,” said Rennie. “He’s played pretty well for us earlier in the year and he’s got a big future for our club so we’re keen to get him out there.
“He’s a good athlete, he is very quick, has great footwork and an ability to get in behind defences, which we battled with at the weekend. He’s explosive and can create a bit of damage, and he’s pretty good post-tackle. He’s not a big man but he’s a handy lineout forward, so he deserves another crack.”
Russell’s return is not so surprising, although the coach thinks that Peter Horne was the right choice for 10 in the first leg.
“Finn is a starting international ten. When the game breaks up he is lethal, and he did a couple of things (when on as a replacement) at the weekend which meant we should have stolen the game but we didn’t.
“We will have the dominant scrum, I am confident of that, and our line out functioned pretty well the other day.
“We just need to look after ball. Even though they were down to 14 men they had the majority of possession and that was because we kicked a bit aimlessly away.”
George Horne, who continues to impress the coach, comes on to the bench. Gibbins is still struggling with an Achilles problem and is unlikely to be back for the Zebre game, while it’s thought Stuart Hogg will get another week’s rest before returning to duty.
The Scotland full back hasn’t played since breaking down in the warm up for the third Autumn Test against Australia.