A NEW season is meant to be a time of fresh hope. What we got from Edinburgh instead on Saturday night was something akin to stale despair.

The thing that caused concern was not so much the fact of the 25-10 defeat by Ospreys as the manner of it. If you lose and play well, you accept the result and move on, or if a loss is caused largely by a couple of players having off nights, you acknowledge that such things happen in sport. But Edinburgh lost this PRO14 match at Murrayfield because they played badly, not just in one or two cases but almost throughout the team.

There were mitigating circumstances, particularly the early injuries to two back-row players which forced substitute lock Andrew Davidson to play out of position and, given the unavailability of Jamie Ritchie and Bill Mata, stretched Richard Cockerill’s squad close to breaking point. But Edinburgh normally have the strength of character to cope with such difficulties, and they are normally able to adapt their game to the conditions - after all, this was hardly the first time they had played in almost continuous heavy rain.

There was also the fact that they had played their last game of the 2019-20 season, the Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to Bordeaux, just two weeks previously, so they were perhaps not quite as rested as they would usually be for the big kick-off. But Nick Haining, for one, was not interested in making excuses. The Scotland No.8 argued that an accumulation of errors both individual and collective was the main cause of the defeat against opponents who had failed to win away from home in the whole of the previous season.

"It would have been nice to have a bigger break, but it's the way it is,” Haining said. “Everybody is in the same boat. We had a good pre-season, we had our finals, we had a week off, and there's no excuses really, we should have been better.

“We’re into a new season now, we had the week off, and we put that behind us. We should be hitting the ground running. To lose like that, with that many errors, wasn't good enough.

“The effort was there, I think. We fronted up as a forward pack. We didn’t hide - that’s something that we pride ourselves on.

“I’ll take responsibility for my personal errors. We made that many errors, it's hard to get a foothold in the game. We talked about it after the game and that's where we let ourselves down.

“Very frustrating. There's not really much more to say: it's frustrating and it has to get better.”

It will have to get considerably better for Edinburgh to have a chance of winning this weekend at Munster, who began their own campaign with a good win on the road at Scarlets. Such a result, however, would rank as a considerable upset, especially given the injury problems that are likely to remain, especially in the back row.

Ritchie is out because of Covid protocols and it is uncertain when he will be available to play, while Mata is definitely on the sidelines for at least another month following ankle surgery. Of the two men injured in the first quarter, Magnus Bradbury failed a head-injury assessment so needs to pass cognitive tests before being allowed back, while the severity of Luke Crosbie’s hamstring injury has yet to be fully assessed.

Every rugby team suffers injuries, of course, but it is already apparent that, compared to the likes of champions Leinster, Edinburgh are more adversely affected when they do lose players. Their lack of depth was amply illustrated when, with the game drifting away from them, they had to bring on inexperienced half-backs Dan Nutton and Nathan Chamberlain. Nutton will drop down the pecking order at scrum-half when Henry Pyrgos and Nic Groom are fit again, but Chamberlain is set to continue deputising at 10 for Jaco van der Walt.

At least Blair Kinghorn and Duhan van der Merwe should be back against Munster, and the return of the two backs should be a significant boost to morale. But whoever starts on Saturday, the key thing according to Haining will be to stick to the game plan while implementing a drastic reduction in the error count.

"Every game's going to be tough this year,” he added. “We have to take some positives out of [the Ospreys defeat]: if we get rid of those errors, I think the game plan works. We have seen it works, so we have to put everything right next week.

"We have got a lot of things to fix, things that are an easy fix, errors that we can get out of our game. I have no doubt that we will front up like we always do.”