In A Pool where all four teams carry champions status - Munster as Magners League winners, Perpignan and Benetton Treviso as French and Italian champions respectively - Saints and Treviso are the unbeaten sides after the opening weekend. But while Saints captain Hartley accepts:
"It's a massive challenge we are looking forward to," he adds: "Perpignan are the Top 14 champions and are set in the heartland of rugby in the south of France.
"I played in the Heineken Cup quarter-final win over Biarritz Olympique in 2007. It was a big game and it was great to head down to San Sebestian and knock the favourites out. We scored an intercept try and it was an awesome day for the club.
"Apart from that, I'm pretty fresh to playing in France. We faced Toulon and Montpellier last season - and did the double over both of them - but we know Perpignan will be something totally different. I've never played them before but I'm excited about the challenge and while it is a tough Pool, we want to win the Heineken Cup."
While the Saints marked that half century of Heineken Cup matches with that stunning Franklin's Gardens Round 1 victory over the Irish province they beat in the tournament final in 2000, Hartley insists they are far from seasoned European campaigners - and that that could work to their advantage.
"We're new to the competition as a squad so we may be an unknown," said the England international hooker, "and I believe that will help us and we will have no fear. Our coach Jim Mallinder has told us we can all name the Guinness Premiership sides, their strengths and weaknesses and who they are, but that isn't the case with the European teams - we are going into the unknown.
"We need to continue our form from the Guinness Premiership and that's all we can control and play well. We must respect them because they have been there and done it.
"It's definitely achievable for us to qualify from this Pool. We have an awesome team spirit, a great squad, great strength in depth of players and a good balance of youth and experience. We train together, we eat together, we live together for seven days a week. We all get on really well and I believe it's vital you have a good team spirit. We are a team who wants to do really well and go places.
"For myself, I am happy with my form but I want to build on the momentum and confidence we've building as a team and individuals. If I do well for the club and the club does well, then I will wait and listen to what the big man Johnno says."