Cardiff may not have done much this season, but when the Welsh side streamed forward in the 65th minute Edinburgh were given a brutal and painful reminder of the calibre of opposition they faced.
The ball zipped this way and that, swiftly and precisely, a sequence of offloads carrying the play upfield at dizzying speed. There was always another man available for Cardiff but, as Edinburgh streamed back, the real danger became clear. Leigh Halfpenny put in a killer burst and shipped the ball on to Sam Warburton, whose brilliant pass allowed Alex Cuthbert to collect his second try.
Or, in other words, the Lions man of the series passed to the Lions captain and the Lions Test winger finished off. Cardiff had finally shown their claws. And Edinburgh were licking their wounds.
It was a harsh outcome for Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw, playing his first game of the season after a knee injury, who could actually take satisfaction from many areas of his side's play. "I'm disappointed, but we had a good first half and I think our set piece is definitely going in the right direction," he said.
"Our defensive shape looked a lot better and a couple of silly errors led to turnovers that made it hard to defend. We're going in the right direction, but this is about results and we desperately need to win a couple of games."
Neither side had done much in the opening stages to suggest their lowly league positions were anything but deserved, although Cardiff certainly looked a lot slicker on the ball than their visitors. With Halfpenny and Cuthbert in their back three, their counter-attacking threat was clear, although it was Harry Robinson, the less heralded left-wing, who probably posed the greatest danger early on.
Even at that stage, though, the calming influence of Laidlaw was having an effect on Edinburgh's performance. The captain shaped the game with a series of astute clearances, a policy that meant Edinburgh were rarely on the rack for any extended stretch in the first half.
They ended that period just a point behind, 13-12, after Laidlaw had clipped over four penalties in response to Cuthbert's 27th-minute try, and the conversion and penalty that Halfpenny had contributed. More significantly, they ended it with confidence high, having just produced their best attack of the half, one that ended with Lions captain Warburton killing the ball and, it seemed for a moment, coming close to being shown a yellow card.
Their tails were still up as they began the second half, too, A couple of minutes after the restart, Laidlaw missed a chance to put Edinburgh in front when he smashed a penalty against a post, while a sustained assault on the Cardiff line soon afterwards brought the video referee into action after Tomas Leonardi had stretched over the line. However, the ruling was that the Argentinean flanker had been guilty of a double movement and Cardiff were allowed to lift the siege.
It was to prove a pivotal moment. Cardiff, so hesitant up to that point, were emboldened by the escape, and they began to tighten their grip on the game, using the wind to their advantage. Their big forwards started to pile into Edinburgh's half, and the Scots could do nothing to stem the tide. Well, nothing legal at least, and they duly coughed up three penalties in the space of eight minutes. Halfpenny kicked them all, took the score to 22-12, and effectively killed the contest.
By the time the Cardiff Lions had combined to send Cuthbert over for his second touchdown, Edinburgh had been reduced to 14 men by the sin-binning of replacement flanker Cornell du Preez. To their credit, though, they did not suffer the kind of moral collapse that was all too common last season, and there was admirable determination in defence when full-back Jack Cuthbert pulled off the try-saving tackle that denied his Cardiff namesake a hat-trick a few minutes from the end.
"Our silly little errors put us under pressure," said Laidlaw. "We are frustrated that we have not won, but we are in a better place than we were last year. We are under pressure and we need to step up, but there were glimpses out there that we are able to compete. We need to put in an 80-minute performance against Munster in Europe next weekend."