Saints take on Saracens on Saturday afternoon in the Champions Cup and flanker Jamie Gibson reckons it will be a test of pride.
It is an ominous encounter so soon in Saints recovery from their mid-season spiral with memories of two previous routs at the hands of Sarries still raw.
But Gibson, who has towered this season and is feeling the buzz from last week’s defeat of Clermont, is excited for the challenge.
He said: “Games in the past are games in the past, in some ways they give us more reason to go down there, what have we got to play for? What did we have to play for last weekend? It’s a matter of pride now.
“There’s a few people who are getting a chance to play against top opposition away from home. It’s another building block. You never want to lose ever. You never want to lose badly. We’ve got four opportunities to play them this season, two did not go well, we can make this one go well then it starts to work in our favour.
“It’s a European game, its one of the games everyone wants to play in. It’s the reason people come to a club like Northampton to play in those big matches. There’s a little bit of rotation, a few people might get a bit of a rest, there’s boys coming back in who are itching to play.”
The coaches, now under the guidance of technical consultant Alan Gaffney, have taken the team back to basics.
Gibson said: “Over the last few weeks we have broken the game back down to the basics. Alan Gaffney has come in and really put an emphasis on that: simple skills, catching, passing, the little bits of interplay between people attacking whether its forwards and backs or forwards and forwards – making sure that when you get opportunities you take them.
“We want to go ahead and do the same in defence. Dowse (Phil Dowson) has come forward and brought a real energy to the defence. We want to make people afraid to attack against us and make them afraid of our attack.
“We’ve focused our game on that basic skill level, working hard and making sure everybody is doing their best to be involved and go ahead and enjoy the game.”
And everyone in the playing staff comes under Gaffney’s scrutiny, even the coaches are challenged to review their performance.
Interim head coach said: “We are all in the office together. He will challenge us in the session then we go back in the office, he gives me a few pointers definitely: why are we doing this? Why aren’t we doing that? He’ll put me under pressure and we’ll put it right.”