While Leinster are almost unmatched in the Guinness Pro14, Stuart Lancaster says recent European setbacks are a great driver as the Irish province seeks to lay down a Champions Cup marker against Toulon on Friday. 

Fresh from a fourth successive Pro14 title, and a victory over Munster that was more comfortable than the 10-point winning margin suggested, the men in blue appreciate a stern examination awaits when the Top 14 club arrive into Dublin with a place in the quarter-finals at stake. 

The sides last faced each other in December 2015 in the pre-Christmas back-to-back fixtures, with Toulon emerging victorious on both occasions. Those glory days have been in the rear-view mirror for the Mourad Boudjellal-owned club, who have not featured at the business end of the competition since then.

Leinster, on the other hand, have reached two of the last three finals, to complement their domestic dominance.

Currently mid-table in France, having lost four of their last six domestic games, Toulon have undergone something of a transition. There is a greater focus on a French-based approach, while the half-back pairing Baptiste Serin and Louis Carbonal add brain to the undoubted brawn of the grizzly pack. 

"They play an expansive style, more like Toulouse really," senior coach Stuart Lancaster told RTÉ Sport. "They are playing some great rugby. 

"We need to be very much at our best defensively. If you give their powerful ball-carriers, both backs and forwards, time and space, it is going to be a very difficult day." 

We want to judge ourselves at the top end of Europe

Of course, fresh from their latest win over Munster to seal more domestic silverware, Leinster are in fine form for such a European examination. 

Lancaster described the win at the RDS as a "really strong performance", though the failure to execute on a number of try-scoring opportunities in the first-half was spoken about at length in the team review this morning. 

"If you saw the review this morning, you'd probably have thought that we had lost given the way we talked about the performance and could do things better." 

Given their 14 wins from 16 in the regular season, including 15 bonus points, is there a fear that the regularity of winning may negatively impact what promises to be a much more challenging task on Friday? 

"Sub-conscious complacency can seep in, when you start thinking that you have all the answers." 

"They [defeats to Saracens in last two European campaigns] stung a lot. We want to judge ourselves at the top end of Europe. We want to be playing the best teams. There is plenty of motivation." 

Leinster are "optimistic" that Johnny Sexton and Ross Byrne will overcome their knocks to be available for selection, and with some more frontliners back in the equation following Six Nations duty, and the likes of Sexton, Tadhg Furlong and James Lowe held in reserve against Munster, Lancaster expects the team to be "freshened up". 

The integration of players returning from international camp is nothing new for such a large supplier to Andy Farrell’s squad, though the timing of the competitions in a pandemic has added another layer to preparations.

There is another level we need to get to

The positive conclusion to the Six Nations campaign, however, has had a positive knock-on effect at provincial level. 

"The players were buoyant coming back in after the England game. That is definitely a bonus for us, they came back with a spring in their step. 

"I think you saw parts of that at the weekend, but there is another level we need to get to." 

Follow Leinster v Toulon (5.30pm, Friday) and Munster v Toulouse (3pm, Saturday) in Champions Cup action via our live blogs on RTE.ie and the RTÉ News app or listen live on RTÉ 2fm's Game On and RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.