They were unbeaten in the Pro14 before their European Champions Cup campaign got underway and remain so now, but Dave Rennie is hoping his Glasgow Warriors are going to show how much they have learned in between times when Montpellier visit tonight.

The head coach exuded respect for the brains of the opposition outfit as he anticipated what represents a last chance for both clubs to keep their hopes of progress in Europe alive having pitted his wits against Vern Cotter, the former Scotland coach who is now in charge there, many times before and previously worked closely with Aaron Cruden, the former All Black stand off.

“Vern is hugely respected in New Zealand,” said his fellow Kiwi. “I coached against him when he was coaching Bay of Plenty. He did a great job there, had a stint at Crusaders and then moved to Clermont. He is a tough operator and will be demanding physicality from his team, but he is an innovative thinker around the game too.”

And in Cruden the Warriors coach knows better than most just why Cotter can be confident he has a play-maker with the full range of abilities to implement any strategy.

“I think he is one of the best 10s in the world if not the best 10,” said Rennie. “I worked with him for a hell of a lot of years at Manawatu, New Zealand 20s and at the Chiefs. He has a great understanding of the game and he is really driven, very professional. He has a very attacking mindset. It’s a bit different for me to be coaching against him but I’m looking forward to it.”

Nor is Rennie in any doubt about Montpellier’s capacity to generate the possession needs to go about his work, or to capitalise on his generalship.

“They have too many (threats) to mention,” he said. “(Springbok hooker) Bismarck du Plessis is back from injury and they have a huge backline… the two South African boys in midfield are both big men. They have Nemani (Nandolo) on one side of the field and (Benjamin) Fall on the other and they are unbelievable athletes.”

Yet he has also been impressed with the way his men have responded since suffering what remain their only defeats of the season to Exeter Chiefs and Leinster in their first two matches in this competition this season.

“The Pro14 is a marathon and Europe is a sprint,” he observed. “We didn’t get it right in those two games. We learned a lot from them but losing put us under a bit of pressure. If you drop a couple of games in the pro14 you have time to claw that back. We played pretty good sides and did not play well enough, learned a bit and hopefully we can show that. We’re looking forward to it. We’ve defended very well but we will find out a bit more about our boys under the blowtorch tomorrow night.

“Montpellier have a massive team and have a huge backline. They will ask questions of us with their ball carriers. Vern will be keen for them to play at the right end of the field as well. They have a high kicking ratio in the competition. We expect them to be really brutal. “

Where those matches were lost was in allowing Exeter and Leinster to fully exploit their power at close range by kicking to the corners, which was down to Glasgow’s own indiscipline in the middle of the pitch, as Cotter acknowledged.

“Both those games we played against teams that that were prepared to go round the edges. We talk about discipline every week. If you give away penalties they put you in the corner and these guys are prepared to go twenty odd phases, an inch at a time. We have to be very disciplined around that,” he said.

However as much as they have to find ways of absorbing Montpellier pressure the priority for Glasgow has to be on their own attack since they know that they not only need to win matches, but pick up bonus points if they are to claw their way back into contention for a quarter-final place.

That seems reflected in their midfield selection where Scotland’s defence leader Alex Dunbar is not listed as unavailable through injury, but is left out, while his international centre partner Huw Jones, who has scored seven tries in 11 Test matches, has been brought in to make his Glasgow debut and form a new partnership with Sam Johnson.

“It is good to bring in some fresh legs and there is a little bit of an X factor in Huw ,” Rennie observed. “We certainly want to attack tomorrow and hopefully the conditions will allow us to do that. He has been in fantastic form for Scotland as has Sam Johnston for us. It was not an easy decision that midfield pairing but two guys in great form. We have gone for the two guys we think are in the best form. It is a bit of luxury in that we have some great options in midfield. Huw is very familiar with a lot of the guys he is playing with. He hasn’t played with Sam Johnson but we are confident that he will adapt. A lot of our strikes and structures are not too foreign do what he has been using at Scotland, although maybe some of the terminology is different. He’s had to get a bit of homework done this week, but we’re confident he can cope with that.”