As former Scotland captain Grant Gilchrist acknowledged his own and his club’s past failings this week an innocuous sounding phrase stood out.

“Do your job well is the best thing you can do for the team as a leader,” said the Edinburgh lock, after admitting he had allowed himself to be distracted by too many other things when co-captain of the club last season. It is the most basic of messages, but those first three words have become synonymous with the Alex Ferguson of collision football, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. In a sport designed to ensure that resources are distributed in a way that prevents any team from dominating for more than five or six years at a time, his teams have won 14 divisional titles during his 16 seasons in charge, seven Conference Championships and five Superbowls.

“Do your job,” became the philosophy which defined the Belichick way long before it became known as the phrase he used to maintain the focus among individuals that requires and brings about supreme teamwork. His hallmark has been his capacity to identify players who meet and can adhering to it, whether long or short term since its principal requirement is attitudinal.

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It’s greatest embodiment is, of course, a play-maker whose scouting report ahead of being the 199th player selected in the Millennium year draft, read: “Poor build, skinny, lacks great physical stature and strength, lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush, lacks a really strong arm, can’t drive the ball downfield, does not throw a really tight spiral, system-type player who can get exposed if forced to ad lib, gets knocked down easily.”

The extent to which Belichick’s outlook brought about his belated recruitment of Tom Brady, the greatest quarter-back his sport has ever seen, or was formed by it is known by just one man. However since what was also Belichick’s first season as a head coach, he has repeatedly found ways of stretching his budget by identifying players who can be brought in cheaply because they have, for various reasons such as disciplinary problems on or off the pitch, or merely because they have not been deemed as physically gifted as their peers, been discarded or overlooked elsewhere.

Central to that is, of course, the capacity to develop, with his backroom team, strategies which mean that if all those on the pitch do what is required of them in those terms it will bring about the desired result while, like the aforementioned Fergie, he also knows when, whether because their powers are waning or their egos can no longer cope with the confinement of their roles within the framework, it is time for previously highly valued squad members to be released and can do so coldly. More recently, however, Belichick has elaborated on those three words, if only for the purpose of emphasising them, when saying: “Maybe the one word that isn’t in that’s implied is: ‘Do your job... well.’”

Which brings us back to how that was echoed this week perhaps coincidentally, but Edinburgh supporters might well hope otherwise since Richard Cockerill could be doing much worse than borrowing ideas from the Patriots. It is, of course, far too early to be drawing comparisons between that mighty franchise and an Edinburgh side that has, in recent years, betrayed the city’s view of itself as ‘a rugby city’, but there was something in the adherence to individual and collective tasks in in Cardiff last Friday which offered encouragement. In doing so they also responded well to demands delivered by their new head coach which have the potential to be interpreted as requiring a different mindset, but only if inflexible thinking is applied.

“We need to learn how to win first,” said Cockerill. If we had played a more attractive game and lost by 10 it’s pointless. We can build from winning. We’re here to win and not entertain and that’s where we’ll start.”

For the more naturally competitive among us who have been driven to distraction by a generation of coaches prattling on about the need for performance through which results will take care of themselves, that message alone was refreshing. After all the fundamental job of a professional sportsperson is to win and if reminding us of that seems overly simplistic I am merely doing my job.