Fly-half Tom Heathcote believes Worcester Warriors have learnt the lessons required from their humbling London Double Header encounter with champions Saracens last season.
Warriors were beaten by Saracens 48-18 at Twickenham in last year's showpiece event.
But fresh from a 12-day altitude training camp in the Alps, Heathcote believes Worcester are in a much better position to take on the reigning Aviva Premiership Rugby and European Rugby Champions Cup title holders.
And in front of a packed-out crowd at the home of English rugby on 3 September, Heathcote is confident it will be a contest of fine margins this time around.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge for us,” said Heathcote.
“They taught us a lesson in both games last season, it will be a big challenge and a real guide for us to see where we are at.
“We really learned how clinical the top sides are in this league, they take any chance and pressure is put on you.
“They are very good at all the little things so those are some of the things we took away and have worked on in pre-season.
“We had a big strength and conditioning block over the first few weeks and in the last few weeks we have switched over to rugby.
“We spent 12 days in the Alps so hopefully that altitude will have some good benefits going into the season.”
Despite their frustrating form against Saracens, Heathcote was pleased with the Warriors’ progress last season as they notched up seven Aviva Premiership Rugby victories and finished comfortably ahead of Newcastle Falcons and London Irish in the standings.
And with plenty of marginal gains being worked on during pre-season, the 24-year-old is hoping for further improvements from the squad in the upcoming campaign.
“We know we had a good basic game plan last year and we want to build on that this year,” he said.
“Add little things and put the focus on individuals improving their one on one, whether that’s carrying or tackling.
“Winning at those individual battles to give us that edge in games.
“We know it’s so competitive in the Aviva Premiership, it’s such a tough league but it’s like that because there’s such small margins between teams.
“If we can get marginal gains that can make a big difference, and if we put them all together that could be the difference between the bottom and the middle/top half of the table.
“We had a number of games where we got losing bonus points and potentially could have won, if we can convert those games we will be where we want to be.”
Start the Aviva Premiership Rugby Season in style with two games from £25 at Twickenham. Harlequins v Bristol Rugby and Saracens v Worcester Warriors in the London Double Header, 3 September. Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk