Jim Mallinder says Saints will show Bath plenty of respect this Saturday - but has stressed his side do not fear the Aviva Premiership’s form side.
Mike Ford’s men head to Northampton on Saturday having won their opening three league games.
Their latest success was the 45-0 evisceration of Leicester Tigers last Saturday, with the victory raising hopes that Bath can challenge for the title this season.
Mallinder is well aware of their credentials, but has no worries about his side’s ability to beat their rivals, having not lost to the west country outfit since February, 2011.
“I don’t know about fear, but we’ve respected Bath for a few years,” said the Saints boss.
“We had three really close games against them last season. We could have lost at home, we drew down there and we just about beat them in the (Amlin Challenge Cup) final.
“They are a developing team and to beat any side by the score they beat Leicester by last weekend, you’ve got to show them plenty of respect.”
Mallinder managed to watch Bath’s battering of Leicester on the bus to Newcastle last Saturday.
And he was impressed with what he saw, with the men in blue and white dishing out a lesson to Richard Cockerill’s team.
“From a complete neutral point of view, we were just looking at Bath because we play them this week,” said Mallinder when asked what he thought of the game at The Rec.
“It was a comprehensive win and the performance was a 15-man effort.
“They pressurised them up front, (George) Ford played a really good game and they’ve got some clinical finishers.
“They’re really going to challenge for the top four. Last season they were unlucky they didn’t get in it - they came very, very close.
“This season, they’re going to be very strong contenders.”