A decent player, certainly, but with serious limitations, and so far from being the kind of performer who could pull the strings at the lofty levels the capital club claimed they wanted to play.
And yet in retrospect, it is easier now to view the fly-half as one of the victims of Edinburgh's troubles than one of the causes, the talent he demonstrated when he first turned up at Murrayfield as a 19-year-old two years ago having been gradually eroded by inconsistent selection and the thinly-veiled view of former coach Michael Bradley that the side needed a more authoritative figure than Leonard to pull the strings in the game's most pivotal position.
In which light, the politely-spoken Leonard's Heineken Cup displays this season have added up to a kind of personal redemption. He ran the show in Edinburgh's shock victory against the grizzled campaigners of Munster in the opening match at Murrayfield the weekend before last, and he backed that up with another display, against Perpignan, that glistened with all the assurance that Bradley seemed to believe he lacked.
Not that Leonard was making any great claims for himself in the wake of a game that did, after all, end up with Edinburgh on the wrong end of a 31-14 scoreline. He may have ushered his side into a 7-3 interval lead, outshining Perpignan's Wales and Lions playmaker James Hook as he did so, but his thirst for improvement is such that it was his side's second-half cave-in that set the tone of his conversation.
"Perpignan really lifted their game, we let a few things slip and they really capitalised on that," he said. "We can take a lot of positives from the first half, but you look at the scoreline at the end and just wonder how it happened. That's what was really disappointing. The boys were gutted. After last week we were building confidence and we really wanted a good result. We believed we could do it, but we let ourselves down in the second half."
And yet, the club that was routinely described as a "basket case" just a few short weeks ago has unquestionably salvaged self-respect from its European sorties. Coach Alan Solomons has stressed the need to focus on performance rather than outcome and, if Edinburgh abide by that instruction, they can certainly take far more from Sunday's game than a 17-point defeat would normally deliver.
They certainly need to. For all that they seem to have found themselves in the Heineken Cup, a brutal measure of reality is offered by one glance at the RaboDirect PRO12 table where, with just one win in five outings, Edinburgh languish in bottom spot. It would be a nonsense to expect the side to rise from its sickbed and conquer Europe, but they can target an improvement in their domestic circumstances as they host to Treviso and Zebre in their next two games.
"We enjoyed last week's victory against Munster, but we banked it straight away and didn't look back too much," Leonard said. "That isn't success in our book. It is a long old season and we want much more than that. We want many more victories. I can guarantee there will definitely be a reaction in the next game. We have the two Italian teams at home before we go into the international break and we want maximum points from those games. I'm very confident we can do it."
Leonard's recent progress comes down to the fact that Solomons has shown the faith in the player's abilities that his predecessor lacked. It has also helped that the coach is convinced that Greig Laidlaw's best position is at scrum-half, and that the captain's period at fly-half now looks more like a working holiday than anything else. Furthermore, as Leonard acknowledges, injuries to Piers Francis and Gregor Hunter left the door wide open for him to enjoy an extended run of games.
"I love getting all these starts," he said. "I'm working hard to keep the shirt. Gregor and Piers are friends of mine and it's unfortunate that they have had injuries, but at the same time it has given me the opportunity so I'm working hard for the team. Confidence comes with game time. It's difficult to build it when you are just getting the odd game, so it gets easier as you play. But if the team is winning that's what matters."
The arrival of Philippe Doussy, the former Italy assistant coach, as Edinburgh's kicking and skills specialist can only enhance Leonard's prospects. Doussy is a rugby technician, but his manner is upbeat and positive, qualities that have not been obvious around the club for the past 18 months. He also completes the jigsaw that Solomons has been trying to put together since his own summer recruitment.
Leonard concedes that the coaching turmoil of recent months was unsettling, but he believes that things are now settling down. "It's not often that you get a whole new coaching staff coming in at the beginning of the season," he said. "We've had to do our pre-season while the early games were taking place, and that has definitely been reflected in our performances and results.
"That's not to make excuses, it just is what it is. But we are dealing with it and I think you are now starting to see performances come together. We are definitely going to improve a lot more as well."