Yorkshire Carnegie head coach Bryan Redpath admits he will discover tomorrow if his side are true promotion candidates.
Carnegie – who missed out on the play-offs last term – have started the Championship campaign impressively with five wins from six games to take early pole position.
However, they face their toughest test yet when they head to Ashton Gate to encounter second-placed Bristol who finished top last season and only missed out on promotion due to yet another play-off failure.
For all Carnegie have picked up points, Redpath realises they have been far from convincing at times and accepts they have to improve markedly.
“Bristol were consistently one of the best sides last year,” he said. “They lost out in the play-off final and have been in play-off situations so we know what they can do.
“They have some quality players despite some missing due to the World Cup and retirement.
“They always have a good scrum, there’s a dangerous backline – Tom Varndell can finish and is in the Premiership’s top scorers – while (Gavin) Henson is always a danger.
“But it’s about their collective team effort; if they click they can score 50 points. They’ve not done it this year but did so a few times last year.
“We need to be disciplined and confrontational and, of course, this is a massive yardstick to see where we are in a big game and the mentality of us being able to do the basics better.
“And that is all it is – the basics. It’s not necessarily anything flash or a wand being needed but the basics that get challenged in bigger games.”
Carnegie faltered at times during last week’s 27-20 win over Doncaster Knights when their second-half forward domination should have yielded more points rather than a situation that saw them nervously edging home.
Tom Casson, who joined from Premiership side Harlequins, will make his debut at centre.
David Doherty returns after recovering from a back injury to replace Christian Georgiou on the wing while Jack Walker returns at hooker. Chris Jones is in the back row meaning Matt Smith and Tom Ryder to play alongside each other in the second row for the first time.