Jim Mallinder says a fast start is essential if Saints want to avoid defeat at Welford Road this weekend.
The director of rugby has warned his players not to let rivals Leicester Tigers get on the front foot early.
And he wants Saints to be water-tight as they look to record their first win at Tigers since February 2007, when Mark Robinson’s try secured a tense 10-9 victory.
“If Leicester get on the front foot and the crowd get behind them, they’re a real awkward team to beat, we know that much,” said Mallinder.
“We’ve got to stop them, make sure defensively we’re very, very good. We’ve got to make sure we play in the right areas.
“We’ve got to make sure we counter-attack with accuracy and at the right times.”
Fourth-placed Saints and fifth-placed Tigers are separated by just a single point in the Aviva Premiership table, with seven games gone.
Recent battles between the two sides have been nail-biting affairs, and Mallinder doesn’t expect that to change.
“We’re very close in terms of where we’ve been in the table and in terms of recent results,” he said.
“We’ve had a little bit of success in the Heineken Cup but also lost a game, done quite well in the Premiership but lost a couple of games so it’s going to be tough.
“We’ve got a number of injuries, so have they. We’ve got a number of players out with England, so have they, and we know what a hard place it is to go to.
“But we’ve trained really well this weekend and we’re looking forward to the opportunity of turning them over.”
Saints go into the game on the back of a barren October, which saw them lose three of their four games in the month.
The most recent defeat came against Saracens last Saturday as the nomadic outfit scored a 16-6 win at Franklin’s Gardens, but Mallinder is not concerned by the recent run of form.
“September was a very good month, we were unbeaten,” he said. “But October was not so good, we lost more games than we won.
“What we don’t want is to concentrate too much on wins and losses, what we do is concentrate on our performance and we’re always looking to improve our performance.
“We will take the good bits from last week, and there were lots of good bits.”