Saints were unfortunate to be left-empty handed at the end of last term, with an astonishing Leinster recovery denying them Heineken Cup success and local rivals Leicester edging them out in a bruising Premiership semi-final at Welford Road.
But there appears to have been no hangover from those desperately disappointing defeats as the east Midlands club have enjoyed a promising pre-season that included wins over Russia, Toulouse and Leicester.
However, Gloucester themselves reached the last four in the Premiership last time out, doing the double over Northampton along the way.
And Saints have been heavily affected by the World Cup with key players Dylan Hartley, Tom Wood, Courtney Lawes, Chris Ashton and Ben Foden among those in New Zealand.
But director of rugby Mallinder has warned his squad that they must step up in their absence.
"There is no room for any excuse on Sunday," he said.
"Yes, we have had some good performances over the past few weeks. But as always there are plenty of things we have been concentrating on in training and once the Aviva Premiership season starts all of that pre-season work will be quickly forgotten if we don't get a positive result against Gloucester.
"Gloucester finished last season very well, winning the LV= Cup along the way, and they got a good result against Russia last week. Bryan Redpath is a good coach and he has some talented players available to him who have the ability to pose us plenty of problems.
"So we will need to be switched on and concentrate from the first whistle."
Gloucester boss Redpath is without injured centres Henry Trinder and Tim Molenaar, while fellow midfield candidates Mike Tindall and Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu are at the World Cup.
Those absentees have forced Redpath to move Lesley Vainikolo into the centre alongside Jonny May, but he is boosted by the availability of wings James Simpson-Daniel and Charlie Sharples, who did not make Martin Johnson's World Cup party.
The former Scotland scrum-half has also seen prominent performers from last season move on in the form of lock Dave Attwood, fly-half Nicky Robinson and prop Paul Doran-Jones, who faces his former club on Sunday.
Redpath is under no illusions as to how difficult the trip to Franklin's Gardens will be, but is confident that the players at his disposal can gain a repeat of last season's win at their rivals, if they believe in themselves.
"We've got to have confidence going in," he said.
"It's going to be tough, Northampton are a good side. They're well respected and they're at home and will be desperate to get their season off to a good start.
"We've got nine players unavailable because of internationals and long-term injuries but we've got to get on with it. The players who are coming in are more than capable of competing.
"If we compete and perform with the characteristics that we expect of a Gloucester player then I can't really ask for a huge amount more."
Kick-off at Franklin's Gardens is 3:30pm.
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