As Edinburgh pursue the result that will either get them into the knockout stage of the Pro14 title race, or more likely a play-off for seventh spot in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup, Richard Cockerill wants his men to expose their fellow Scots’ big match frailty once again.

The team from the capital already has two wins over Glasgow Warriors this season, part of a run of eight wins in the last 10 derby matches and their head coach clearly reckons that is indicative of the issues that have prevented what has long been considered the stronger of the Scottish teams from achieving more than it has.

On his arrival in the Scottish game, Cockerill seemed clear in the view that there was work to do to close a gap in how the two teams were resourced, suggesting that Glasgow had been favoured by their SRU owners in preceding years.

However, in spite of most of Scotland’s leading home-based players being housed at Scotstoun, they have repeatedly failed in matches that matter in Europe as well as the derbies and, other than when they won the Pro12 in 2015 during a brief lull in the fortunes of Ireland’s leading provinces, in the domestic competitions.

While, then, there was initially a generous ring to his comments when asked how much the imminent departure of their talisman, Stuart Hogg, might have on tonight’s proceedings in a match that is likely to be vital for both sides and may decide whether this is the British & Irish Lions full-back’s last appearance at Scotstoun, Cockerill seized the opportunity to raise pertinent questions about the Warrior mentality.

“They’re all good pros and all they’re thinking about is trying to get to the final to win the competition,” he observed.

“They’re a good side, they’ve earned the right to be in the top two of their conference and have an opportunity to finish top so they can have a couple of weeks’ rest, have someone at home in the semi-final and then hopefully move on to Celtic Park and win the competition. They’re a good enough team to win the competition, there’s no doubt about that, but a bit like ourselves, on the big occasion they haven’t always performed in the last couple of years. In the big games they haven’t always played as well as they can, so we’ve got to test that theory tomorrow.”

Those comments must be seen in the context of Edinburgh repeatedly having exceeded in expectations in topping a tough-looking Champions Cup pool on their return to the competition after a five year absence, out-playing Munster for most of their quarter-final, winning both derbies and making their mistakes in matches they were expected to win, rather than when asked to raise their game.

As he once again sends what is essentially an all-international pack into the fray, then, he clearly believes his team can generate the type of intensity that can cause their hosts to buckle once again when the pressure is on as he dismissed claims from within the opposition camp that the derby results came during an overall dip in Glasgow’s form and instead suggested that they might better be seen as a proper reflection of the teams’ abilities in matches that matter.

“I’m not sure what that midseason slump is, it wasn’t until we beat them twice,” he observed, pointedly.

“They were going pretty well to be fair. They’re a confident team and last couple of weeks they’ve built confidence against Ulster and Leinster in different circumstances. We went to Scotstoun at Christmas time having beaten them at home and they weren’t able to deliver. As simple as that. They went to Saracens and had a massive game there and again couldn’t deliver, so there are question marks around their psyche as well. It will be interesting to have both teams test their psyche around playing these big games you have to win. It’ll be a big test for both pro teams and Scottish rugby as a whole, about our players stepping up and performing on the big stage.”

That this is taking place in a World Cup year adds an extra dimension to those comments, since several of the match-ups are between players who are contending for places in the squad that will be heading for Japan.

However, in terms of what might be seen as Scottish rugby’s greater good, the likely scenario is that there will be no ideal outcome tonight, with Glasgow success almost certain to deny Edinburgh a place in next season’s Champions Cup, while an Edinburgh win would hugely reduce the chances of local involvement in the end-of-season showpiece Pro14 Grand final at Celtic Park next month.

The worst of all results would be a repeat of what happened in both previous derbies, with should Edinburgh again win without picking up a bonus point and while the expected need to score the four tries necessary to make it a full five point haul is seen as changing the dynamics of this match, Cockerill indicated that his men would be sticking to what has worked for them previously.

“The scoring four tries part is that you can do that in lots of ways,” he noted.

“Scrum or line-out drives or pick and goes… it is no secret we will not make the game loose and open as that will suit Glasgow more than it suits us.

“We have to control the game. If we need to score four, we will score one, then more and so on. It is not that from the first minute we will wing it from side to side and have a crack as that will suit the opposition more than us. We will still play our structure and it may mean we take kicks to corners rather than kick for threes. It will be a great contest. They need to win for an easier passage to the final as they say.

“There is as much pressure on Glasgow as ourselves. It will be interesting to see who deals with that pressure best.”

In saying that, he acknowledged that what is essentially an enforced change has potentially improved his team’s chances of asking different questions of Glasgow in the wider channels with injury to regular play-maker Jaco van der Walt bringing the reintroduction of New Zealander Simon Hickey at stand off.

“Simon’s ball playing ability is slightly different to Jaco’s,” Cockerill pointed out.

“Jaco has a bad shoulder and is not fit. Simon brings a bit more of a ball playing element to our back line which is helpful. Simon is also more of a tactician while Jaco is more physical at the line... more of a footballer and more thoughtful round certain parts. He gets an opportunity to prove himself tomorrow. “

Across the midfield, the reintroduction of uncapped midfielders Chris Dean and Jimmy Johnstone, ahead of international pair Mark Bennett, who drops to the bench and Matt Scott, who is left out of the match 23, meanwhile provided a further opportunity for Cockerill to make his point that he is more interested in how players perform, than what sort of reputations they may have.

“Chris and Jimmy have played a lot of big games this year and played very very well,” he said.

“They have earned the right to start this weekend in our biggest game of all. Credit to Jimmy and Chris round what they have done rather than the other two.”

Their job will be to try to release the scoring potential of a back three in which little Darcy Graham will again play at full-back, inviting direct comparison with fellow Hawick native and Scotland team-mate Hogg, which his coach expects him to take in his stride.

“I think he is capable of playing well and holding his own against anybody,” said Cockerill. “Darcy has been very good. He is a young player learning the game and he brings a real edge to how he plays and he will be important to us. I have every confidence he is more than capable of dealing with this type of game.