Saints boss Jim Mallinder knows bully boy tactics will no longer frighten Gloucester.
The west country outfit head to Franklin’s Gardens for the Aviva Premiership opener tonight (ko 8pm).
And they are likely to pack a punch with the likes of Lions hooker Richard Hibbard and former All Blacks prop John Afoa having been added to the Kingsholm ranks this summer.
Mallinder recognises Gloucester, now under the guidance of David Humphries, will now be a much tougher proposition than last season, when they finished ninth.
And he said: “They’ve got some quality players in without a doubt. Some international class players and I think they needed it.
“They got a little bit bullied last year, particularly in terms of their set piece.
“They’ve got some lively backs, some really good quality finishers, but they’ve recruited really well.
“It’s going to be a really good challenge for us and with Gloucester it will just be about how quickly they can gel together.
“They’ve got a new coaching team, new players, they’ve had some pre-season games that have gone well but the big question is, how quickly will they gel together?”
Saints have undergone far less change this summer, opting to stick to stick with the players who earned them Amlin Challenge Cup and Aviva Premiership glory last season.
Consequently, they will be expected to take less time to adjust to the new campaign, but Mallinder is keen to quell early-season expectation.
“That’s what people expect, but it doesn’t always happen,” he said.
“Sometimes you can expect too much, you can expect your game just to function as it did at the end of last season, and it doesn’t always do that.
“We’ve got to work really hard in training to make sure we cover everything and we’ve got to go back to basics, back to some of the things we’ve always done successfully during the past season or two and make sure we get on top of our game.”