Leinster currently top Pool 2 with nine out of a possible 10 points from two wins, while Clermont, who lost 29-28 to Leinster in Dublin in last season's quarter-finals, are four points behind.
So is Schmidt looking forward to going back to his old club? "Yes and no," was his answer.
"I am viewing it as probably a cold December day in a cauldron and I know we are going to get a really hot reception on the field. We are going to have a real battle to try to keep our heads above water.
"I really like the way Clermont play. They look to use the ball and are a positive team. They throw big numbers in at ruck time and really hurt to make you get the ball back.
"We had a fantastic game of footie when the two sides met last season. Clermont scored three tries to two that night, but left 26 points in missed kicks out on the field.
"Leinster were lucky to get their noses over the line, but they showed all the character we knew they had.
"What I learned last season is you can't go to a place like Clermont and just look to try to get a bonus point out of it. Leicester tried that and they had 40 points and five tries put into them.
"You have got to go to Clermont and play against them. We just want to let the result take care of itself by playing as well as we can.
"Hopefully, we can get something out of the game and take some confidence into the second leg."
Having seen his side's six match unbeaten run in all competitions come to an end against the Ospreys in the Magners League, Schmidt was delighted to see his players come back from the dead against the Scarlets last weekend and recover from 17-5 down in the final quarter to steal a 17-17 draw.
"It was good to get the draw, but I see Clermont in the Heineken Cup at a whole different level," said Schmidt.
"I was looking at the highlights of the Championship final last year recently and listening to a bit of the speaking afterwards when we got back to town. Aurelien Rougerie, the skipper, told everyone that now we have the Championship it is time to have a go at Europe.
"They are not hiding their ambitions and I think they have the firepower to do really well. It was their fourth successive final and their first victory in 11 attempts at that stage.
"It had been a hell of a big monkey on their backs, not winning the Championship - or more like a silver-back gorilla. To finally get rid of that was great for them."