It won’t be balmy by any stretch but Stafford McDowall hopes it will be somewhat warmer tomorrow night than it was on the occasion of his Champions Cup debut.

It was five years ago this month that the then 20-year-old centre was thrust into the Warriors starting line-up alongside Huw Jones, a partnership that could be reformed this weekend.

Lyon were the visitors to Scotstoun on that December day in 2018 when, fresh from signing his first professional contract earlier that week, McDowall was handed his big chance.

It was a successful maiden outing with Glasgow running out 21-10 winners but it is the atrocious conditions rather than the scoreboard that most stick in his mind from that landmark occasion.

“I hope the weather is a bit better this time!” laughs the Warriors captain. “It was really cold that day with sideways hail. I remember hearing at the start of the week that I would be playing and I was absolutely buzzing as this is the competition that you watch growing up.

“I just remember at the game it was about -5C and Niko [Matawalu] not being able to feel anything on his body and still scoring two tries. Hoggy [Stuart Hogg] couldn’t feel his hands. Someone gave him a bottle of boiling water to warm his legs and he thought it was normal water. It was ridiculous how cold it was – I don’t think Lyon wanted to be there.

“These memories stick with you as it’s such a special competition. Even little things like the different balls we use and different post protectors going on. These are the games you want to play in.”

McDowall looked set to become an established part of Warriors’ plans after that but the journey since then has been far from straightforward.

Marginalised under former head coach Danny Wilson, the Scotland centre didn’t feature in any of the previous Champions Cup campaign two years ago, making him eager to make up for lost time if he can.

“I’ve been here six years and only played three Champions Cup games,” he reflected. “Last time we had La Rochelle and Exeter and I didn’t play in either. I wasn’t anywhere near it to be honest. So it excites me to maybe be able to get a run in this tournament.

“We had a great run in the Challenge Cup last year and it did great things for us going all the way to the final. It’s a great competition in its own right and you don’t make it to the final without having to play teams who could go far in this competition. But this is the top table of European rugby.

“You can ask anyone in the Challenge Cup and they would say they would rather be in the Champions Cup. It’s where you get to test yourselves against players and teams you don’t normally play against.”

Northampton Saints will provide the first challenge at Scotstoun tomorrow night, buoyed by their weekend Premiership win over Saracens. Glasgow, in contrast, head into the game on the back of a defeat to Munster, something McDowall hopes will fire them up.

“We’re playing a tough team in Northampton who have a similar style to us,” he added. “They like to move the ball around a lot. They’ve got high-quality internationals and boys on the fringes of international call-ups. They had a good win away at Saracens last weekend and not many teams go there and win.

“We know they’re coming here with their tails high and we’re hurting a bit after a loss at the weekend. So it’s going to be a good game. There’s already so much excitement among the group about being back in this competition. It means a lot for us to be back in the top tier of European rugby and we want to bounce back and show the rest of Europe what we can do as a team.

“We’ve not lost a regular season game here for a while, just that one playoff game to Munster. It’s something we take massive pride in.

“Defending our home is one of our mantras here and playing in front of friends and family means a lot to us. We’re the first game in the competition so to do that at hopefully a packed-out Scotstoun will be special.”