Sale Sharks are braced for their "biggest test" of the season when Guinness Premiership champions Leicester arrive at Edgeley Park on Sunday.
Sharks, cruising on the back of four successive European Challenge Cup bonus point victories, could enter the play-off zone if they topple Tigers and other results work in their favour this weekend.
But Sale rugby director Philippe Saint-Andre knows Leicester will provide formidable opposition.
He said: "This is a big game for us in front of a full house at Edgeley Park.
"We have been playing well over the past few weeks, but Leicester is always a huge game for us.
"It is our biggest test so far this season."
Centre Lee Thomas and number eight Sebastien Chabal, who both agreed new club contracts earlier this week, feature in a Sharks starting line-up that also includes New Zealand import Luke McAlister.
But England star Mark Cueto's hopes of beginning his comeback from a calf muscle injury off the bench will hinge on a late fitness test.
McAlister, meanwhile, faces an intriguing midfield contest with his All Blacks World Cup colleague Aaron Mauger, who has been recalled following a low-key launch to his Tigers career.
Mauger replaces Dan Hipkiss, while there are also starts for the likes of prop Julian White and flanker Luke Abraham as Leicester look to bounce back from their 22-11 Heineken Cup defeat against Toulouse last time out.
They will also arrive in Cheshire buoyed by the knowledge of a 32-8 EDF Energy Cup victory over Sale just three weeks ago.
Loffreda said: "We have to finish with the frustration of losing in Toulouse and look forward to the next step, which is a tough match against Sale.
"I think this will be even more difficult than the EDF Energy Cup game.
"Both teams want to be in the top four in the league, and we have to encourage the side to make a real improvement."
London Irish will look to transfer their European form on to the domestic stage in Sunday's Madejski Stadium appointment with Premiership bottom club Worcester.
Despite heading confidently towards the Heineken Cup quarter-finals, Irish lie 10th in the Premiership with just two wins from seven starts.
And Exiles rugby director Brian Smith acknowledged: "We are generally happy with our position in Europe, but we need to get our Premiership season back on track, and that starts on Sunday.
"We have been desperately unlucky so far in the league, but hopefully, good performances in the three big games over Christmas and New Year (against Worcester, Leicester and Sale) will help us climb back up the table."
Worcester field all three of their New Zealand signings - Rico Gear, Sam Tuitupou and Greg Rawlinson - and rugby director Mike Ruddock said: "We have been through a testing period.
"Now, we want to come out the other side and register that first league win.
"It is easy to talk about potential - now we have to deliver on the field."
Leaders Gloucester head to Newcastle on Sunday, targeting a seventh league win from eight starts, with Falcons coaching and technical director Steve Bates predicting a Christmas cracker.
Bates said: "Gloucester play a very attacking brand of rugby, as do we, so I will be very surprised if the score at the end of 80 minutes is 3-3!
"We are playing on our home pitch in front of what will be our biggest crowd of the season, and all players rise to those sorts of occasions.
"It will undoubtedly be a tough game against an excellent side, but this is what rugby is all about.
"Far from being daunted, the boys are actually really excited by the challenge of proving their credentials against the very best."