Former Gloucester enforcer Dave Attwood insists Bath must silence the Kingsholm crowd as Bath brace themselves for a backlash.
The England second-row spent two seasons in cherry and white, before joining their fierce West Country rivals in 2011, and knows all about the emphatic Shed support.
Gloucester are still reeling from their dismal Amlin Challenge Cup defeat to London Wasps last Sunday and will be determined to bounce back as they target seventh place in the Aviva Premiership.
And Attwood is adamant that Bath must come out firing at an emotionally-charged Kingsholm cauldron.
He said: “Kingsholm is traditionally a stronghold for Gloucester but it is not something they have managed to establish this season.
“But with the players they have, we know that when the crowd get up, all those guys can raise their game and turn any game around in a moment.
“There will still be some frustrations from last weekend but we know they have some really threatening players, particularly in the backs, complimented by a few key characters in the pack, like Ben Morgan.
“If they can get a platform they will cause us real trouble.
“They will be disappointed after Wasps but they have a lot to play for in terms of what they can qualify for from the league. We have to be prepared for a backlash.
“They will be fully motivated to put things right and what better an opportunity than in a local derby which means so much to the fans.
“It’s so important to take the game away from the Kingsholm crowd as early as possible because they really can be the 16th man for Gloucester and get in players’ heads. We have to match that emotion from the offset.”
Bath have not conquered Castle Grim in league action since 2006 but will be overwhelming favourites to do so on Saturday.
While the Cherry and Whites languish at the wrong end of the table, Bath are flying high in fourth
and will be looking to
further cement their place.
Ironically, much of Bath’s success this season has been built upon a traditional strength of Gloucester, one which has been so dearly missed this season – a hard-nosed, dominant pack.
Now Attwood insists Bath must flex their muscle and show no mercy to expose Gloucester’s soft underbelly in the forward battle.
He said: “We’re still in the play-off positions and while it’s absolutely vital that we stay there, even more importantly we have to snap back into form.
“We have drifted off the rails a little bit but a scrappy win on the weekend was a good start to getting back on track and hopefully we can continue that against Gloucester.
“The pack has been a strength of ours all season and that’s testament to the players.
“We would be daft not to target that area against Gloucester but that is more to do with our own strengths.”
Attwood plans to catch up with several of his former team-mates this week and joked that Alex Brown is already ignoring his calls. But he is expecting a warm welcome upon his latest return to his stomping ground of old.
“The proximity means it’s all you will hear about, you will be walking around town this week and it’s all people will be talking about,” he said.
“These are the games you look forward to, local derbies in front of sold-out crowds.
“It’s a special one for a lot of the guys here but particularly for me because I have history with Gloucester and a lot of my family will be there watching.
“Some supporters were disappointed when I left but they’re knowledgeable rugby fans and they understand people have to make decisions and there was never really any animosity.
“There’s always a bit of banter but that’s what Kingsholm is always about and I’ve always received a warm welcome.”