Tom Wood says Saints must control their emotions in the game he labels ‘the biggest on the calendar’.
Jim Mallinder’s men square up to local rivals Leicester Tigers, with a series of controversial meetings having preceded Saturday’s clash at Franklin’s Gardens.
Saints have not come out on the right side of an east midlands showdown since September, 2010, failing to beat the Tigers in nine meetings.
Northampton saw their hopes of Premiership glory shattered last May as Leicester claimed a 37-17 win at Twickenham, following the first-half dismissal of captain Dylan Hartley.
Wood has also been sent off in the heat of the derby battle, seeing red along with former Leicester man Alesana Tuilagi in a game at Welford Road in December, 2011.
And though he recognises how important the latest clash will be, the England flanker is eager to make sure Saints keep a lid on their feelings at the Gardens.
“We’ve spoken about how important this game is it in the meetings this week,” said Wood.
“The likes of Paul Diggin, Northampton through and through, they know what it’s about and what it means to everyone in the town.
“We know this is the biggest game on the calendar and we know these local derbies are always big matches and they’re always full of controversy and emotion and everything else.
“We’ve got to make sure we manage things and get our end perfect on the day.”
Saints go into the game on the back of a 19-6 defeat at Sale last weekend, a match that saw the club’s Six Nations contingent make their return from international duty.
Wood admits it wasn’t easy to slot seamlessly back into the Premiership picture, but is hopeful things be much smoother this weekend.
“When you go off with England, you spend time trying to drop the Saints calls out of your head and then you come back and reverse the process,” he explained.
“You’ve got to re-learn lineout calls and phase plays and so have the guys around you.
“Last week, we had Will Hooley making his first Premiership start with Luther (Burrell) at 12 coming back from international duty on a bit of an emotional high from the last few weeks.
“There’s lots of things, we just didn’t quite click but it’s part of the job. You’re a victim of your own success to a certain extent and you’ve got to get on with it.
“We’ve done that this week, we’ve trained well and the lads are pretty optimistic going into the game.”