Worcester boss Mike Ruddock believes his side are in "pretty good shape" ahead of tomorrow night's Amlin Challenge Cup opener against Montpellier.
Ruddock’s Warriors head into Europe on the back of solid Guinness Premiership form that saw them collect 10 points from five games, including victories over Sale Sharks and Leeds Carnegie.
And the Warriors will be quietly confident of progressing from a European qualifying pool that also includes Connacht and Spanish minnows Olympus Madrid.
A format change this season sees five group winners joined in the quarter-finals by three Heineken Cup pool runners-up, those teams ranked third, fourth and fifth after the group stages conclude in January.
It suggests the Challenge Cup will be tougher to win this term, but Worcester are buoyed by an impressive record in the second-tier European competition - 2008 runners-up and losing semi-finalists last season.
“We go into our European challenge buoyed by a reasonable start,” said rugby director Ruddock.
“We’ve had two home wins and some difficult performances, in terms of being difficult to beat, on the road and picking up some crucial bonus points.
“We think we are in pretty good shape. What is key is us being more consistent week in, week out. Against Leicester (last Saturday) there was a lack of accuracy in our first-half attack. That probably cost us.
“We must keep working as a team, and we will become an even better side. Then, these near misses that we have had in the opening few weeks will transfer to some big wins.”
Ruddock rests centres Alex Grove and Sam Tuitupou for Montpellier’s Sixways visit - Rico Gear and Dale Rasmussen forge the midfield combination - while scrum-half Jonny Arr and prop Shaun Ruwers make first starts of the campaign.
Montpellier, currently 13th in the Top 14 French Championship, include former England centre Ollie Smith and Argentinian international fly-half Federico Todeschini.
But Montpellier’s recent form - successive domestic defeats against Bayonne, Racing-Metro 92 and Toulouse - suggests Worcester could win with something to spare.
The Challenge Cup continues on Friday night with Leeds setting out in Pool One away to last season’s beaten finalists Bourgoin, while Newcastle travel to Petrarca on Saturday.
And Sunday’s action sees two of the pre-tournament favourites - Premiership leaders Saracens and twice Heineken Cup winners Wasps - hosting Rovigo and Racing-Metro, respectively.