MAYBE the pressure of possibly playing for their careers proved too much for too many Edinburgh players; possibly the drop-off from the first team really is as steep as it looked in this game; or could it be that it was just one of those silly afternoons when everybody decided to have an off-day together for no reason at all.

The debate will go on, but one thing is sure: a bunch of the 31 out-of-contract players are now sweating on whether they are going to get a new deal. Alan Solomons, the Edinburgh head coach, usually goes for conservative selections; he gambled this time and it failed – spectacularly – so he is unlikely to be so bold again this season. In that position, opportunities for the fringe flops could be few and far between.

He was certainly fuming afterwards at the lesson in just how shallow his strength in depth turned out to be and there were few players who could have argued that being on the wrong end of a six-try hammering deserved any less.

You can chose to highlight the daft kicks that handed London Irish good attacking positions, the one-on-one missed tackles, the defensive misalignments that let the opposition through, the failure to capitalise on the chances they created. It all added up to the same thing – a rout and comfortably the worst performance of the season.

"We are all bitterly disappointed," said Neil Cochrane, the stand-in captain. "You are always going to be in for an uphill battle after you leak four fairly soft tries in the first half. There are no excuses that can be made, as players we have to go away, take a long, hard look at ourselves because that performance was not good enough.

"All week we have been talking about this as an excellent opportunity for some of the fringe players to go out and stake a claim, but that has come and gone and a lot of the boys have not put their hands up. We need to pick ourselves up, look at ourselves individually and move ourselves on as a team.

"That is the most disappointing thing; boys not grasping the opportunity. Ultimately, it is the top two inches, we said that before the game, it would be the attitude, the top two inches that would win us the game because the ability of the players on the pitch is there – we had a similar team for the first four games of the Guinness PRO12 and they won them all. It must be mental attitude and concentration."

Concentration was at the heart of the way they blew a good opening that produced two penalties for Greig Tonks, the fly half. Missed tackles handed two soft tries to Andy Fenby, the opposition wing, a third to Alex Lewington on the other wing and yet another on the stroke of half time to Johnny Williams, the centre.

The second half was better, but just as frustrating was that when Edinburgh did create scoring chances, they made nothing off them, the handling in the backs letting them down and even the pack, the main strength that has been carrying them through the season, faltering in sight of the try line.

From a Scottish point of view, though, it was anything but doom and gloom. None of the Edinburgh starting team made the World Cup, but London Irish had Sean Maitland at full back and Blair Cowan came on just past the half hour mark to remind everybody what a hard-working industrious player he is.

"Going back to Murrayfield next week is going to be exciting," Cowan said. "We have to be real, we have to strip it all back, figure out what made us click and stick with that. We have to stay real about the challenge ahead because we know they are going to bring in some of their big dogs, so we have to stay focussed and not get carried away.

"I felt I took my own game forward there because I just relaxed and did what I do and what I can do. Coming back from the World Cup was a bit of a challenge but were all aware before going that it was going to come, especially when you are an Exile and knew the challenge was there as soon as we came back."

Not only that, with all the tries coming from their backs, Clark Laidlaw, another from the rich rugby breeding ground in Jedburgh, could show that after a few months as backs coach at the club he is starting to make his mark there. "It's been a tough couple of months so to get a performance and a win is a confidence boost," he said.

"Next week will be a lot tougher, they have had to rest their internationals but we know a few will be back, that is the challenge. We are all looking forward to going up to Edinburgh, I have not been home for a while so it will be good to see the family and have a good game as well."

Scorers: London Irish: Tries: Fenby 3 (11mins, 13, 76). Lewington (27), Williams (40+2), Tikoirotuma (60) Cons: Geraghty 3, Brophy-Clews.

Edinburgh: Pens: Tonks 2 (2mins, 8)

Scoring sequence (London Irish first): 0-3, 0-6, 5-6, 12-6, 19-6, 26-6 (half time), 31-6, 38-6.

London Irish: S Maitland; A Lewington, A Tikoirotuma (T Brophy Clews, 66), J Williams (D Waldouck, 56), A Fenby; S Geraghty, B McKibbin (D Allinson, 72); T Court (T Smallbone, 56), G Ellis (J Stevens, 61), B Franks (L Halavatau, 61), E Sheriff, J Sinclair (D Sisi, 70), L Narraway (C) (B Cowan, 34), C Gilsenan, O Treviranus.

Edinburgh: D Fife (B Kinghorn, 74); T Brown (D Hoyland, 51), M Allen, A Strauss, O Katoa; G Tonks (sin bin: 40-48), N Fowles (S Hidalgo-Clyne, 40); R Sutherland (G Shiells, 72), N Cochrane (C), J Andress (S Berghan, 51), A Bresler, A Toolis, J Ritchie (M Bradbury, 48), H Watson (G Turner, 61), C Du Preez.

Referee: L Hodges (Wales)

Attendance: 3,959