Leicester Tigers are the only club to record back-to-back Heineken Cup titles - but England centre Dan Hipkiss is adamant they will be the underdogs for their Anglo-Welsh semi-final showdown with Cardiff Blues at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday.
The 2001 and 2002 champions of Europe beat the Blues in their two Pool meetings in 2006/07, including a thumping 34-0 rout at Welford Road, but the Blues have won all 12 of their knock-out matches this season en route to the last four of the Heineken Cup and winning the EDF Energy Cup, their first piece of silverware as a region.
"People give us little or no chance - and that includes the bookies," said 26-year-old Hipkiss, who has scored four tries in 22 Heineken Cup appearances. "We have won the Heineken Cup twice but that is history and not relevant to today. At
Leicester we don't dwell on the past and what may or may not have been achieved years ago and it is players like Tom Croft and Harry Ellis who are our future.
"The Leicester mentality is always to set the finals of all competitions as the goals - getting only as far as the semi-finals is simply not good enough. "Along with that there is the drive to play your best rugby in the big games, the ones that
really matter like a Heineken Cup semi-final, and we will be very disappointed if we don't reach at least one final this season.
"The build up to these games is just like for an international and we are really looking forward to this semi-final. When we played the Scarlets in the 2007 semis at the Walkers Stadium that was one of the most enjoyable games I have been involved in." The Scarlets were the tournament hot favourites that season and the Blues will be wary of the Tigers bringing a premature end to another Welsh attempt at conquering Europe.
"They are always looking to attack and the Blues play a lot of rugby with Martyn Williams the vital and exceptionally good link from the breakdown - the area from which so many games are won or lost," said Hipkiss. "They have good ball carriers in the back row and midfield and the style they strive to play involves the centres getting over the gain line and so making it easier for the forwards to get second, third and so on other phases going.
"This is just the sort of game you want to test yourself in and with them having six Lions set to tour South Africa in the summer - including centres Tom Shanklin and Jamie Roberts - we know it is going to be a big challenge.
"However, we are pretty happy with our form right now because, while it was tough changing styles midway through the season with the change in coaches, we now feel we have adapted pretty well. "And we will be drawing on all the experience we have gained in the Heineken Cup - like going to Munster in 2007 needing to win and coming away with a 13-6 win to go through to the knock-out stages as the Pool winner.
"Getting to Murrayfield would be absolutely huge for everyone, the players, coaching staff and especially our fans. "We have won two of the three games I have played in at the Millennium and it is one of those stadiums you are really hungry to play in as it is very similar to Welford Road in that the fans are right up close to the pitch. That will create just the sort of atmosphere you want for a huge game like a semi-final."
The directors of ERC voted unanimously at a Board meeting to postpone all decisions including the release of further instalments of ERC's distributable central revenues to the six shareholder countries until 19 February next when the Board will meet again to reconsider the issue.