Northampton Saints - one of only three clubs to have won both elite European club rugby tournaments - are banking on their march to European Challenge Cup glory last season boosting their Heineken Cup challenge on their return to the big time.
The 2000 Heineken Cup champions will become the 16th team to play 50 Heineken Cup matches when they launch their bid against former double tournament winners Munster at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
"We were pleased with the way things ended up last year - we were good at home and that helped," said head coach Jim Mallinder.
"To finish eighth in the league in our first season back was satisfactory and to win the European Challenge Cup was very encouraging. That finished off a good season for us but now we've got to move on and we've got to improve. It's going to be tough and it's going to be competitive but we're looking forward to the challenge.
"You'd never pick to play Perpignan, Munster and Benetton Treviso but we've got that and, actually, it's a brilliant draw for us because it will see how far we've come. Northampton is a big club and needs to be playing and competing on that big stage. I think the confidence in the squad has always been there but what the Challenge Cup has done is show us that we can compete with some of the big teams. We proved that we can play away from home in the Challenge Cup, winning all our games in France.
"It's also showed us that we really want to go on and challenge and prove ourselves against the very top teams. Winning the Challenge Cup has given us the opportunity to do that, especially with the draw that we've got in this year's Heineken Cup.
"However, people won't underestimate us this year and they'll know that they've got a difficult game. But for us, it's just about making sure we do the right things at the right time; that we continue to work hard; we continue to stay tight as a group; and we go into every game giving it our best effort. As long as we do that, I think we'll be competitive."
And Saints and Ireland back row forward Roger Wilson knows just what a tough task lies ahead against 2006 and 2008 champions Munster.
"I was hoping to get one of the Irish provinces and I didn't really mind which one as it's just nice to play against either old team-mates or players you played against at age level or have been competing with to try and get in the national set up," he said.
"The fact that it's Munster - who are one of the top teams in Europe - is even more exciting and an even bigger opportunity.
We know that if you want to get out of the group stages, you've got to win your home games. So we'll definitely be targeting our home games, starting with Munster, and it'll be a great occasion and we're looking forward to it. Whenever you play against Munster, they've got a whole pile of internationals in the squad, so you know the Irish selectors are going to be there and I still haven't ruled out getting another couple of caps for Ireland.
"I remember playing in the Heineken Cup with Ulster - those matches were always the big occasions throughout the year, a much bigger step up from the domestic League and just a small step down from international rugby."
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.