Stuart McInally well remembers being told at the end of the warm-up for last year’s third and final 1872 Cup game that Edinburgh were in the Guinness PRO14 play-offs, but the skipper knows it’s a different set of circumstances this time.
Once again at the end of their warm-up before Saturday’s game against Glasgow the Scotland hooker and his team-mates will be appraised of the score from Italy where Zebre host Benetton – with the visitors needing a win to knock the capital club out of the play-offs.
They’ll also know what happened between Scarlets and Dragons in the opening match of Judgement Day at the Principality Stadium, and therefore how much they have to do to get into the play-off for Heineken Cup qualification.
Either way, the major difference is that Edinburgh have to win this year, while 12 months ago was very different.
“That was great!” recalled McInally. “Ulster didn’t get what they needed, I think and we were in. Actually, it was good fun we could just play the game against Glasgow (they won 24-19) with no fear.
“It’s very different this year, there’s a lot riding on this match for both teams. They obviously want to get their home semi-final, we want to make sure we’re in Europe next year, but it’s still a good thing we’ll know what we need by the time we go into it.
“We’ll have plans in place whether we just need to win, or whether we need a try bonus point. We’ll find out on the day.”
The 1872 Cup wil be collected by McInally whatever happens, although he admits that’s almost been forgotten in the light of other issues.
“It’s certainly never fun picking up the 1872 Cup is you’ve lost the game, and it has happened, when it used to be decided on aggregate over two games,” he said.
“Maybe because we know we’ve won the first two games and the cup, it’s kind of forgotten about.
“There’s so much more riding on this game than the cup. It’s much more than just Edinburgh versus Glasgow. The bragging rights are a non-issue, we both need the points badly.”
McInally believes that it’s a different Glasgow side to that Edinburgh dominated in both ends of the festive doubleheader, in personnel and in attitude.
“We’ve seen as recently as against Ulster and Leinster away they’ve played some brilliant rugby, not beaten these teams by grinding it out, they blew them away,” he said.
“They beat Leinster at the RDS which very, very few teams do. And they’ve got such a good record at home.
“We just have to try and shut down their attack, they’re very good at playing when they’ve got quick ball, they run good support lines and we’re going to have make sure we get numbers on our feet in the defensive line and chop them down.”
Edinburgh are the only away side other than Saracens to win at Scotstoun this season, a win founded on their strong setpiece and controlling the tempo of the game.
“We work really hard on our set piece but I think with Fraser (Brown) and Zander (Fagerson), there scrum will be much stronger compared to the one we faced at Christmas,” added McInally.
“The scrum was an area we got on top of in the games around that point of the season but we’ve watched a lot of their footage, they won a lot of scrum penalties in their last two games against both Leinster and Ulster.
“It’s an area we work hard on and when we kick well, it’s on the back of a good lineout or scrum. It’s going to be really the key to this game.”