On Friday night, for the first time in a while, home was where the hurt was for Glasgow Warriors. Franco Smith and his players have become so accustomed to winning in front of their own fans that it had almost become self-fulfilling. Turn up at Scotstoun and the rest will take care of itself.

Now this time, however. Not against a Northampton Saints side fresh from a domestic victory away to Saracens and eager to make their own mark on a Champions Cup tournament that had brought them nothing but torment in recent years.

The Premiership side fell behind to an early Sebastian Cancelliere score and then conceded two more tries late in the contest. In between, however, they were thoroughly dominant, their only frustration that they failed to add to their own three scores on their way to a 28-19 victory that was far more comprehensive than the scoreboard would suggest.

The Scotstoun crowd was left stunned, just as they had been when Munster arrived in May and knocked out their favourites on their way to winning the United Rugby Championship, and again back in January 2022 when La Rochelle had arrived in Glasgow on Champions Cup duty and fled back to France with a victory in their pockets.

Just two home defeats in 23 months remains a record to be proud of but that one was a significant knock-out tie and this latest one again in the Champions Cup suggests Glasgow have a bit to go yet before they can consider themselves both battle-ready and equipped to deal with the most demanding of challenges.

Northampton played with the sort of swagger normally reserved for Glasgow at home, throttling the Warriors maul and operating with such pace and slick handling on a wet night that tries or penalties were an inevitability. It took until the last 20 minutes before their hosts finally bared their teeth but it was too late by then.

Smith admitted he was baffled at a third slow start in succession and made the players more than aware of his feelings during a half-time dressing down. Warriors can yet make a decent fist of this return to Europe’s top club competition – starting with Bayonne away on Friday night – but Stafford McDowall admits they can’t afford to play catch-up every time.

“It’s definitely fair comment [to say it was a poor first half again],” said the captain, wisely not of a mind to offer a counter-opinion to his head coach. “Against Ulster, we probably got ourselves out of the hole at half-time. We knew that if we kept playing the same game model we would win, and that’s what we did.

“Against Munster, it was similar to Northampton - we gave them a head-start and struggled to get back into it. Although we scored first against Northampton, again we gave away penalties and played in wrong areas of the pitch. That cost us, and the message was heard in the changing room at half-time.

“When Northampton got their opportunities, they took them. They were clinical. I thought Fin Smith pulled the strings well, he put us in tough areas to get out of pretty consistently in that first half.

“They’re a quality team - you don’t go to Saracens and win unless you’re a good team, so there are lessons to learn. But there is no better place to bounce back than in a big game in France. The boys are hurting and we expect to see a reaction next week.

“If you want to do well in this competition, they’re pretty much all must-win. Certainly if you don’t want to be going to a tough away game in the last 16 or quarter-finals. It adds pressure but that’s why we play this game, to play in these big games and react well.”

Smith was of a similar mind, insisting that, despite his obvious frustration, that it was far from an entirely lost cause.

“I told them, we draw a line under this and we take the next few days to take this defeat on the chin,” he said.  “We’re used to learning from a win, now we’ve got to learn from a defeat.

“The fact that there are people thinking we can win this competition, and we all have that belief, should not be a pressure on us. And I think some of the actions I saw on Friday night were pressure actions. We want it too much. And if you want something, sometimes the physical side doesn’t back that up, so we must do more to get what we want.”

McDowall has started every game so far this season but after disappearing into the wilderness during the Danny Wilson era is determined to make up for lost time.

“I don’t want to take a break ever,” he added. “I love playing for this club. I had two years when I didn’t have the opportunity to play at all so any opportunity I get to play, I want to. Obviously it’s Franco’s decision to make, not mine, but I’m here and ready.”