There is no arguing with the fact that the better side won in the Stade Aime Giral yesterday, but Edinburgh's contribution to the contest was far more than could be measured by a 17-point defeat.
Their first half performance was, in the words of coach Alan Solomons, "the best they have played all season." Edinburgh played with real devil and purpose in that period, and they rattled Perpignan back on their heels. The Catalans had the manic support of their wonderfully partisan crowd at the start, but by half-time, with Edinburgh leading 7-3 thanks to a 39th minute try by Tim Visser, the sounds and sentiments around the ground were of nothing more than derision.
And yet, Perpignan's fightback was a thing of beauty as well. Wandile Mjekevu, the substitute winger, could scarcely have delivered a more farcical performance in the first half had he played with his shorts round his ankles, but he suddenly decided he was Jonah Lomu instead and rewrote the script of the game as he scored two tries and made another with a wonderful counter from his own half.
Not that Solomons was anxious to heap praise on Perpignan for what they did after the break. "We brought it upon ourselves," sighed the coach. "We made errors with a couple of kicks and then we didn't play to our systems. I thought our first 40 minutes were outstanding, and the scoreline certainly flatters Perpignan, but individual and system mistakes cost us. You can't afford to make errors against a side like Perpignan because they certainly will punish you when you do."
Edinburgh's performance must also be judged in light of the fact they lost both Dave Denton and Matt Scott to injuries - bicep and thigh respectively - on the morning of the match. The two Scotland internationalists had been doubts all week, and it was decided that neither was able to play just a few hours before kick-off.
In fairness, their replacements -Tomas Leonardi for Denton and Joaquim Dominguez for Scott - both put in admirable shifts, although the introduction of the two players also meant position reshuffles in the centre and back-row. Cornell du Preez moved from blindside to No.8 to accommodate Leonardi in the No.6 shirt, while Nick De Luca moved to inside centre to allow Dominguez to play outside.
And for those opening 40 minutes, everything seemed to work rather nicely. De Luca and Dominguez combined brilliantly with full-back Jack Cuthbert to send Visser over for his score, while Leonardi and Du Preez seemed to be in a private battle to see which of the two back-row bruisers could knock down the most Perpignan players.
No mean feat, as the Catalans were not exactly short of muscle in that department (and a few others as well). What they did seem to lack, in the first 40 minutes at least, was anything that could be mistaken for composure on the ball, as they coughed the thing up with galling regularity.
That they even managed to get three points on the board in that time was thanks only to the television match official who ruled that James Hook's 11th minute penalty had gone between the posts, when two touch judges had ruled that it did not. As the video images gave the TMO no better view than the touch judges had enjoyed, it was a bizarre decision, but at least it helped to settle a few Catalan nerves at the time.
If they were shredded by Visser's contribution just before the break, it didn't show in the way Perpignan went about their business after the restart. Nervous and easily knocked out of their stride up to that point, they suddenly began to dictate terms and showed why few sides ever relish a visit to this part of the world.
Four minutes after the break, Perpignan got their noses back in front when Mjekevu gathered a loose kick near the Perpignan 10-metre line and set off on a thrilling run that took him straight through the front line of Edinburgh's defence. A few phases later, full-back Joffrey Michel sped through the last line for Perpignan's first try. Suddenly, a stadium that had been seething with scorn just a few minutes earlier became alive with Catalan confidence.
And perfectly justified it was, too. Four minutes later, Mjekevu swopped roles, switching from creator to finisher. Perpignan had hammered away at the left side of the Edinburgh defence, churning the ball efficiently through a series of rucks, when they suddenly broke to the open side. As Edinburgh moved right to cover, Mjekevu collected the ball, changed his line, and sprinted over by the posts.
The third Perpignan try came 13 minutes later. There was no fancy wrapping paper round this one, though, as it came from a lineout in the left corner and was made by some ferocious graft by the pack. When their maul broke down, the ball somehow popped out to flanker Justin Purll, a player far more likely to be mistaken for a potting shed than a panther. Two yards out, though, he was in his element, and he duly flopped over the line.
There was an element of controversy about the fourth, as Perpignan seemed to have knocked on in their own 22 before Hook launched a crossfield kick in the direction of Watisoni Votu. The winger gathered and off-loaded brilliantly to Mjekevu, whose grin grew wider with every stride of his 70 metre race to the Edinburgh try line.
With the bonus point in the can, Perpignan's day's work was done. Edinburgh's mini fightback in the last 15 minutes has to be seen in that light, but it still energised the handful of Scottish fans in the ground. It was finally rewarded when Du Preez wrestled his way over for Edinburgh's second try with three minutes to go.