Welsh open their debut campaign in the English top flight with a clash against last season's beaten finalists Leicester at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 2pm).
The odds are heavily stacked against them given that their late admission into the Premiership robbed them of precious time to strengthen their squad.
But they can take heart from relative newcomers Exeter's performance over the last two seasons which has seen the Chiefs not only survive, but thrive.
"It's a fantastic start to the season," said Mills, the Exiles' captain and second row.
"We are looking to ruffle a few feathers this year and aren't there just to make up the numbers.
"Look at what Exeter have done since they have been promoted - that's the template we want to copy."
Welsh will field a side with 10 changes from their Championship play-off success as they begin life in the top flight.
Internationals Phil MacKenzie, Sonny Parker, Franck Montanella, Paulica Ion and Kirill Kulemin are among those handed starts but high-profile signing Gavin Henson misses out with a fractured cheekbone.
Leicester, beaten finalists in the last two seasons, hand Premiership debuts to new signings wing Vereniki Goneva and lock Rob Andrew as they travel to the Kassam.
Jordan Crane is on the bench after missing all of last season with a knee injury.
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