In Europe, in the Pro14 and even in the 1872 Challenge Cup he has watched his Glasgow Warriors teams repeatedly fail to deliver in matches that matter since he took charge, but Glasgow Warriors head coach Dave Rennie reckons they are ready to demonstrate that they have raised their game when Ulster visit Scotstoun tonight.

In his first season in charge Dave Rennie was exposed to Glasgow Warriors’ trademark tendency to flatter to deceive as they earned a place in the Pro14 play-offs in minimal time, winning their first 10 matches in that competition while losing all four of their European ties over the same period.

That their first league defeat of the season allowed Edinburgh to set up an end-of-season 1872 Cup decider which they won, before Glasgow were then unceremoniously ejected from the play-offs on their own turf by the Scarlets, only underlined their failings.

More mitigation was on offer in Europe this season in that their only defeats came at the hands of the Saracens team that would go on to win the title and while another embarrassment was suffered at the hands of their neighbours over the festive period, the one-sided nature of the season’s last derby, as they completed an impressive run-in to the domestic campaign, means confidence is high at Scotstoun.

“The (Champions Cup quarter-final) disappointment against Saracens has been well documented, but outside of that performance over the last two or three months we’ve gone really well. I’ve always said that you want to be playing your best footy at play-off time because that’s when it counts the most,” Rennie said yesterday.

“As a squad I think we’re in a good place and we’ve got aspirations to still be around next week. We’re confident, but we know we have to play well.”

As to comparison between now and this time a year ago, he indicated that the additional time together has allowed his players to understand what they need to do to take the step up from all those failures in Europe and, with a solitary exception four years ago, in the domestic play-offs in which they have been among the most regular of participants.

“It’s probably not easy to pinpoint,” he said of the difference that has been made. “We’ve added a little bit of firepower, but I think we’ve just had an extra year together, we’re a little bit older. We’ve got a lot of key players in form. It’s a very happy group and we’ve got a group of guys who aren’t playing this week who have had a role in helping us prepare for this game. We’ve been having fun and working hard and looking forward to the challenge tomorrow night.”

“We were confident that we would perform well against Scarlets last year, but we didn’t play well, for a number of reasons, perhaps. We’re in a far better place now, I think and we want to show that tomorrow night.”

He knows, however, that an Ulster team that is overseen by former Glasgow and Scotland forwards coach Dan McFarland and has been significantly enhanced since winning its semi-final by the return to their side of Ireland’s most lethal finisher Jacob Stockdale, but perhaps even more importantly, since losing at Scotstoun a month ago, by those of front five forwards Rory Best and Iain Henderson, will be very threatening.

“They’ve had a really good season,” he acknowledged. “They probably didn’t play very well against us here last time, but then they had really good performances against Edinburgh away and then Leinster to secure second spot in their pool. So we’re well aware of their threats. Best and Henderson are in this time and we’re anticipating it will be a real arm-wrestle. When you get to this stage of the year, it’s just full on for the 80, isn’t it? We’re very conscious of the fact that Ulster are playing more footy this year and have the ability to attack through their pack or out wide.”

There was a surprise in the home line-up with South African prop Oli Kebble left out in favour of Jamie Bhatti, who is being allowed to leave Glasgow at the end of the season, but Rennie said that had been down to the way the Scotland international had responded when given his chance.

“We asked him to make some shifts. It is a slow process, but to his credit he has really dug in,” he said. “Obviously, he is heading to Edinburgh, but he has played so well that we really can’t leave him out. Oli has been injured a lot and he wants to earn his position back. We are rewarding Jamie for performing well knowing that we have a good option on the sideline.”

He is also hoping that another who will be departing at the end of this campaign will be properly rewarded for his efforts.

“He’s been fantastic,” was Rennie’s assessment of Exeter-bound Stuart Hogg.

“We’ve seen the best of him in the last few weeks, haven’t we? We want to get a lot of ball in his hands… We know he’s got a fantastic kicking game and that’s been important.

“He’s a real spark, isn’t he? He didn’t play an enormous amount of footy for us in my first 18 months here, but he’s just really excited he’s been able to string a lot of games together. He’s playing well, which augurs well for Scotland going into a World Cup.”