Glasgow were traditionally the more adventurous of the Scottish pro teams, playing with an elan which contrasted with Edinburgh’s more attritional style under Richard Cockerill.
The arrival of Mike Blair to replace Cockerill last summer and the club’s switch to an artificial surface at their new stadium have helped unshackle them.
Carolan is adamant that Glasgow won’t compromise their principles this weekend but he hinted that they might be a little more selective in where they choose to attack.
“This year it’s a whole new surprise package with Edinburgh,” said the coach. “The brand of football they’re playing is quite exciting and they’ve reaped the rewards from that.
“It’s quite similar to our own so you’ve got two teams going head to head with open rugby and being willing to have a go. From a neutral perspective it should be exciting.
“In terms of picking holes in them, it’s about which team keeps their shape longest. Edinburgh are quite potent on the transition. Teams who have turned the ball over to them in recent games, they’ve pounced on that.
“The last time we played them here we scored a couple of transition tries, one from a loose kick and another from a turnover in our own half. So it’s two teams willing to pounce on mistakes. You have to find the balance between playing an open brand that’s your identity with accuracy, and playing in the right areas of the field.
“It’s not necessarily conservative as it’s all about having a go. But it’s about not pushing too hard, not trying to force it when it’s on. But definitely recognising the opportunities and going for them when it happens.”
Glasgow won 30-17 when the sides met at Scotstoun in March and retain that 13-point advantage for 1872 Cup purposes. The match will also determine which sides Edinburgh and Glasgow will meet in the URC play-offs but arguably the bigger prize on offer is a place in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup which will go to Saturday’s winners, regardless of the aggregate score.
“The Champions Cup, for the profile of the club, is the competition that we strive to be in, and for the ambition of the players – that’s where they want to be,” said Carolan.
“The fact that we’re in a [URC] quarter-final, whether we go to Leinster or South Africa, we’ll need to be at our best no matter who we come up against. We just have to deal with that as it comes up. Getting Champions Cup rugby for next season has to be our number one priority.”
The match will probably come too soon for Fraser Brown but the hooker should return from a shoulder problem before the end of the season. There is also a glimmer hope for Rory Darge whose knee injury is not a bad as initially feared.
“He’s still a couple of weeks away. So there’s a chance he could make the back end of the season,” said Carolan.