Somewhere along the way, Edinburgh have lost their sense of direction.

Last season, their first under Mike Blair, the squad clearly relished the freedom they had been given by their new head coach to think for themselves on the field after the more programmed approach of his predecessor, Richard Cockerill.

This season the attacking verve introduced by Blair is still there, but the self-belief and sense of purpose appear to be sadly lacking at times.

That was very much the case on Saturday night at the DAM Health Stadium as the home team slipped to a seventh defeat in eight URC outings. They scored four tries to earn the consolation of a bonus point, but they let in seven, some of them all too cheaply as Leinster ran out 47-27 winners.

When he announced his decision to step down as Edinburgh’s head coach at the end of the campaign, Blair said his intention was to concentrate on becoming a world-class attack coach, and explained he had found some of the other demands of the job frustrating.

It was an honest, self-critical verdict that goes some way to explaining the imbalance that his team currently exhibit.

Few if any Edinburgh supporters would want a return to the Cockerill days, when even some of the team’s biggest victories were achieved in predictable, all-too-conservative fashion.

But at least for the first season or two of his four-year tenure, the former England international was right to emphasise the need to make Edinburgh harder to beat.

Judging by this season’s results, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Whoever succeeds Blair would do well to attempt to redress the balance between the desire for attacking enterprise and the need for solid defence.

It can be done. Ask Franco Smith, who has stayed true to Glasgow’s attacking traditions while introducing a more solid structure. Or, indeed, ask Leinster.

True, the league leaders, for whom this was a 15th win in 15 games, have a by no means perfect defence. But when they do let in a lot of points – 29 to Zebre and Ulster, for example, and 34 to the Sharks – it is usually after ascertaining that they are going to get the better of a firefight.

That was certainly the case against Edinburgh. The first half-hour or so was pretty even as Emiliano Boffelli got the first of his two tries and Boan Venter also touched down, with Boffelli adding a conversion and a penalty.

But a third try for the visitors just before the break gave them a 21-15 interval lead, and they stretched that lead with the first try of the second half. And although Boffelli’s second briefly kept Edinburgh in contention, the Irish side ran in four more tries without reply before Sam Skinner’s consolation minutes from time, converted by Charlie Savala.

“It was tough,” hooker Stuart McInally admitted after making his return from a three-month injury absence. “I felt as the game went on that Leinster showed their class.

“We came off second best in a lot of the collisions, especially in the second half. I felt they scored a little too easily.

“There were times when I was proud of the defence, but times when I was less proud of the stuff we put out there. I was pleased with a lot of our attack in the first half, but ultimately it was not enough against a quality team.”

Edinburgh are now seven points behind eighth-placed Connacht, who are their next opponents a fortnight on Saturday. With only three regular-season games left, they need to win that one to keep their play-off hopes alive, and will then almost certainly have to do the same against Ospreys and Ulster if they are to finish inside the top eight.

It is by no means a hopeless position, and the squad should gain extra motivation from the fact that they also have a Champions Cup last-16 tie against Leicester to look forward to at the end of this month.

“We’ve got plenty of league games, and that match against Leicester is a huge target now,” McInally continued. “We will be throwing everything at it.

“We’ve had good times in Europe in the past and there will certainly be no lack of motivation. We’ve got the Leicester match and we worked hard to get into that position. It’s a huge goal for this club.

“The stuff we put out there at times on Saturday showed we can compete. But against a quality team you have to do it for 80 minutes and we didn’t do that.”

Edinburgh will have their full Scotland contingent back for their remaining games, provided, at least, that Grant Gilchrist does not receive too long a ban for his red card against France. The disciplinary hearing took place last week, and the announcement of its decision, already well overdue, could be made today.