THERE isn’t much between December and January. Both are filled with hope and expectation, the only difference being that, while the former can deliver gifts aplenty, the latter is sometimes clouded by reality. It might be no bad thing then if the Edinburgh players just leave their 2018 calendars up for just a wee tad longer, until after next weekend perhaps.

The old year ended for the capital side with two doubles, the second coming against inter-city rivals Glasgow Warriors following similar back-to-back wins over Newcastle Falcons in the European Champions Cup.

Those endeavours against the English Premiership side have put Edinburgh top of Pool 5 and made qualification for the knockout stages a real prospect. Much, however, will depend on next weekend and how Edinburgh can perform on the road against the might of Toulon, humbled 40-14 at Murrayfield in Week 2.

Scotland lock Grant Gilchrist, a one-time target for the French giants and outstanding during Edinburgh’s month to remember, appreciates the former European Cup winners will have revenge, retaliation and retribution on their minds on Saturday.

“Yes, definitely,” says Gilchrist. “They had a few injuries and guys suspended up front last time, so they will be a better side. And at home, they’ll really be looking for a reaction against us.

“We know we’re going to have to be better than we were in the first game, and better than we’ve been probably in the last few weeks as well. It’s about us just making sure we keep building towards the game.”

Gilchrist hasn’t played at the ­Stade Mayol, but does have half an idea what it will be like thanks to some inside information from rivals along the M8.

“I’m looking forward to playing out there, at their stadium, ­because it always has a great atmosphere. You see it on the TV – it’s always packed out. And a few of the [Glasgow] boys said how good the atmosphere was. It’s going to places like Toulon and Montpellier that’s the great part of us being back in the Champions Cup. And where better to go and play.”

Had things panned out differently three years ago, Toulon might already have been home for the 28-year-old second-rower, but instead he stuck with Edinburgh. Any regrets about that call?

“Not at all,” says Gilchrist. “Things have worked out well for me so I’m happy with how things have gone. I’m happy here at Edinburgh, and it is a really exciting time for the club and I’m delighted to be part of that.”

A less experienced Gilchrist was part of the 2012 Edinburgh team who reached the semi-finals in the Champions Cup. However, unlike seven years ago, Richard Cockerill’s men will focus on all fronts.

“The big thing we’d want to do this year compared to then is to make sure our league form doesn’t drop and that we don’t fall away in the Pro14 – or the Pro12 as it was then. Because we had Europe, we put all of our eggs in the European basket and we were really poor in the league. That’s something we just wouldn’t accept this year.”

Like Edinburgh, Gilchrist is in a good place right now, thanks to some outstanding displays.

“It’s certainly been an enjoyable month,” he said. “We’ll take the confidence from those four games but we are not going to get too carried away with ourselves either. We know the effort that went into preparing well to get those victories. So we just have to make sure that we take the confidence and the good feeling that’s definitely around the club after the last month, but keep working hard and keep trying to improve because if we do that then we’ve got a really good opportunity. That’s really exciting.

“Not many teams go to Glasgow and get victories [only Saracens had previously achieved it this season] and to do it in the way we did, where we were dogged and defended probably as well as we have in the last couple of years, and to come away with the home win as well against Glasgow, was great. But the win over at their place, against a top-quality team, we were delighted with that one.”

The 27-times-capped forward, who, with Ben Toolis, won the doubles contest in the 1872 Cup ties against fellow Scotland hopefuls Jonny Gray and Tim Swinson, added: “We don’t see it too much as an ‘us versus them’. It was more important that we were able to help the team win, and that’s all the matters really, in the sense of those little unit battles.”