Racing Metro skipper Dimitri Szarzewski believes Saints are one of the favourites to win this season’s Rugby Champions Cup.
But he says taking them on in the first game of the tournament is a plus as Racing bid to get an early upper hand in Pool 5, which also includes Ospreys and Treviso.
Last season, Racing opened up with an impressive home victory against Clermont Auvergne but finished bottom after suffering at the hands of Harlequins and Scarlets.
And Szarzewski knows he and his team-mates face another tough task to qualify this time round, with Saints posing a huge threat.
“Northampton Saints are among the favourites to win the competition,” said the hooker.
“They are champions of England and we are expecting a very big game against them.
“They have been at the top for the last three or four years and they have some exceptional players who can make a difference at any time in a game.
“The best way to come into a competition is to play them first. We know we will really have to play our best rugby - there will be no chance to adapt in the game.
“Last year we started well against Clermont with a win at home, but we drew against the Scarlets and then collapsed.
“This year the fact we are doing pretty well in the Top 14 might free us up to do well in Europe.
“I saw Northampton play against Bath, Gloucester and Sale, and when they start to get their game going it is nearly impossible to stop them.
“We need to find a way to upset them and impose ourselves on them.”