Ben Foden admits Bristol will see Saints as ‘perfect prey’ this weekend.
But the full-back insists his side are ready to rise to the challenge and bounce back from last Saturday’s disappointing defeat to Bath.
Saints were stunned 18-14 at Franklin’s Gardens as the west country club won in Northampton for the first time since April, 2000.
It was far from the start to the season Jim Mallinder’s men wanted, and they will now bid to recover by winning at Ashton Gate on Sunday.
But Foden knows Saints are in for a real scrap against a Bristol side who will be fired up for their first home game back in the big time.
“We know Bristol are going to be a good side, they gave Quins a good run for their money at the weekend (Bristol lost 21-19 at Twickenham), they’ve made good signings and there’s a few old faces that we know who are capable of playing good rugby,” Foden said.
“We know it’s going to be a hostile environment, 25,000-seater and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that sold out in their first game back in the Premiership.
“They’ll come out fired up and they’ll be looking for a big scalp.
“A dented Northampton Saints from the opening game is the perfect prey for them so we need to make sure we go down there fully focused and don’t take anything for granted.
“If we’re going to beat this Bristol side we’re going to need to play good away-from-home rugby, take the points that are on offer and build ourselves into the game.
“When it’s there to take tries, we’ll take them when they arise.”
Foden limped off after just 38 minutes of the game against Bath, having sprained his ankle.
But he is now hoping to be fit enough the face Bristol and insists there has been no gloominess at the Gardens this week.
“We were disappointed with the result against Bath, but I don’t think we need to get too doom and gloom about it,” he said.
“It’s the first game of the season, a lot can happen, a lot can change and there’s a lot of rugby still to play.
“Hopefully we can fix things up and get a good result this weekend.”
The last time Saints faced a newly-promoted side in their first home game back in the Premiership was last season, when Foden and Co lost 13-12 at Worcester Warriors on Premiership opening night.
And he said: “I want to say that we did learn from that, but obviously again, the opening game of this season we’re disappointed with the way it turned out.
“The big pressure on us is that we need to win away games that we’re expected to win.
“If we want to be a top-four side we need to go away from home against the teams people think will be in the bottom half of the league and beat them.
“It could be a good thing that Bath beat us to shake the cage, get the boys fired up and make sure we don’t take anything for granted this weekend.
“We’ve got to go there and take four or five points.”