Nothing has done more to vindicate Richard Cockerill’s insistence on making no distinction between the approaches to the two competitions his Edinburgh side are competing in than the way last weekend’s results turned titled the immediate consequences of the next two matches they confront.

As a quarter-final there is, of course, no change to the nature of their encounter with Cardiff Blues on Saturday, the losers exiting the competition as the winners more on to the next knockout round. However, Edinburgh’s victory at Connacht allied to Ulster’s hefty defeat in Cardiff, means they have the prospect, the following weekend, of what will effectively be another knockout opportunity, the joy of which is that the only team that can be knocked out will be their opponents, Ulster.

The head coach has maintained throughout the season that his men are outsiders in this play-off race and he knows it is still too early to express too much satisfaction with the position they have put themselves in knowing that a win against the Irish province would get them into those play-offs with two matches remaining, breathing down the neck of the second-placed Scarlets with the chance of leap-frogging them and so improving their situation further.

“The key parts are that we don’t see the season to this point as a success,” he said yesterday. “We know if we beat Ulster here we’ll be in a quarter-final, however we’ve still got Scarlets to play, and outstanding team, but there’s still a chance we might push past third if we get things right. I’m not thinking too much about that because we can’t get ahead of ourselves, we’re not a good enough team to do that. We need to make sure today’s right, tomorrow’s right, but we’ve put ourselves in position to make the really good teams have a good hard think about us.”

He was, however, prepared to acknowledge that reaching the Pro14 play-offs and with it the chance to pit themselves against the best in next season’s Champions Cup – a prize they could also attain by winning the Challenge Cup – would make this a successful campaign.

“If we’d sat here six months ago and said we’re going to be a play-off team you’d all have gone, `What with Ulster and Scarlets and Leinster in your group? You’re dreaming’ and to be fair you’d be dead right because I’d be saying exactly the same. It’s amazing that with a bit of hard work and a bit of belief, we might surprise ourselves. You know we’re not a good enough side to be in semis and finals but we’ll see. We’ll give it a good crack. Whoever beats us going forward I just want them to be very good at what they do to beat us.”

Given Cockerill’s analysis of what has brought out the best in his players it is probably as well, though, that they now find themselves up against the Pro14’s leading sides from here on in, those clashes with the two sides either side of them in their Conference followed by a season’s finale against the Conference A leading Glasgow Warriors which may have even more at stake than the 1872 Cup if Edinburgh can get themselves in with a chance of clinching the runner-up spot in their table.

“Of the last five games, supposedly against the bigger sides, we’re very much on our game. Mentally we’ve switched off against Dragons and Connacht, because we know if we play as well as we can, we can win and we’ve probably not been quite as robust mentally as I’d like us to be,” he noted.