Glasgow Caledonian Reds will have their resolve tested not only by the European champions, but by a global select at Franklin's Gardens tonight.

Their hosts, Northampton Saints, claim to be coming into the match under-prepared, but even in the absence of a trio of England internationalists, they have put together a formidable line-up for the Reds' visit.

The pack alone contains internationlists from six different countries - Martin Scelzo from Argentina, England's Tim Rodber, Frenchman Olivier Brouzet, Samoan Pat Lam, Springbok Gary Pagel and Scotland's Calcutta Cup pack leader, Budge Pountney - while the back-line adds two more to their league of nations, Welshman Allan Bateman and Italian Luca Martin.

''It is as strong a team as we could have fielded,'' said Saints first-team coach Paul Larkin, adding that Scottish forwards Steve Brotherstone, Mattie Stewart, and Rob Hunter are all among a long list of replacements likely to be used at some stage. ''However, we have had no warm-up fixtures at all so far.

''We spent a week in Biarritz last week, and while the facilities were pretty basic, it was ideal for the work we wanted to do.

''However, the six training sessions we did out there, while excellent, are all we have done so far.''

That appears to leave them off the pace compared with their English rivals, who have been gearing up for some weeks. However, Larkin explained that the multi-national nature of their squad leaves them particularly vulnerable to summer tours.

The hope for their visitors, then, is that a Reds squad which spent last week gelling and building confidence as they claimed the inaugural Coastal Cup in Vancouver, will come up against a group of highly talented individuals yet to establish an overall playing pattern.

Saints' coach certainly made it clear that the Reds should not expect a repeat of the Northampton style of play that took them to their Heineken Cup triumph and to the English Cup final, as well as setting the pace for long periods in the English Premiership.

Explaining that they are following principles initially set out by Ian McGeechan in his time as director of rugby there and maintained by his Scottish successor, John Steel, they are looking to develop a more expansive game than was usually in evidence as their pack drove them to glory last season.

Those who revert to type can expect to encounter ruthlessness, it would seem. ''To those who know us well I think we have become fairly predictable,'' said Larkin. ''What we have done we have done well, but people do now know how to defend against us.

''I have told the players I will be videoing the game from behind them, and those taking easy options will not be the ones playing against Newcastle in our league opener next week.''

That seems ominous, since in their matches against Edinburgh Reivers last season the Saints proved they were far more than a one dimensional outfit.

After the mauling they suffered in miserable conditions at Franklin's Gardens, the Reivers, admittedly then struggling for form, braced themselves for another onslaught a week later and were shocked as Saints ran them ragged on a firmer Myreside surface.

In spite of losing their hugely influential Argentinian hooker, Freddie Mendez, to French rugby, as well as Scotland lock Richard Metcalfe and flanker Don Mackinnon to Reivers, Saints look to have an even stronger squad this season.

Aptly named French lock Olivier Brouzet and Scotland hooker Brotherstone bolster their pack, while the quality of the back line on show tonight is remarkable given that England trio Matt Dawson, Nick Beal and Ben Cohen are all out injured.

The Reds also travel today without a posse of internationalists, captain Andy Nicol carrying a minor knee problem and lock Stewart Campbell has an achilles tendon strain, which kept him out of action in Canada, although hopefully both will face Munster on Saturday. New recruit James McLaren and flanker Gordon Simpson have both only just resumed training, so miss out, though they may also face the Irish European Cup finalists, but Glenn Metcalfe's foot injury and Alan Bulloch's thigh problem remain worrying.

However, it remains a strong party with 13 full internationalists and the balancing act the management appeared to be attempting last weekend seems to have worked out perfectly.

Clearly, they were attempting to see some of their younger/newer and fringe squad members in the decisive match against British Columbia in Vancouver, while holding back some of those likely to start the game in Northampton.

''We did well because although we only just won the match in the dying minutes, I felt we thoroughly deserved to win,'' said backs coach Rob Moffat, who deemed the overall exercise highly worthwhile. ''We had great training conditions, even if it was slightly on the hot side for matches, and we have come through some very physical games successfully and, apparently, with no serious injuries.''

Northampton Saints - M Tucker; C Moir, A Bateman, M Allen, L Martin; P Grayson, D Malone; G Pagel, S Thomson, M Scelzo, O Brouzet, T Rodber, G Seely, B Pountney, P Lam

Glasgow Caledonian Reds squad. Backs - C Chalmers, R Shepherd, I Jardine, J Stuart, I McInroy, J Craig, S Longstaff, G Beveridge, AN Other, M McKenzie, T Hayes. Forwards - D Hilton, A Watt, G Scott, G Bulloch, G McIlwham, W Anderson, D Burns, S Griffiths, J White, R Reid, D Macfadyen, J Petrie, D Flockhart.