DANNY WILSON grimaces as if in physical pain as he recollects his team’s last visit to the Stadio Monigo in Treviso, Italy.

It was a humbling 46-19 loss to Benetton back in April, and easily the darkest hour of his tenure as Glasgow Warriors head coach. A return to the scene of the crime is on the cards this afternoon, and the challenge now is to prove that the lessons learned in excruciating circumstances seven months ago have stuck.

“As I said at the time, it was a perfect storm, and that’s not making excuses because we take responsibility,” recalled Wilson. “The positive was that it was the catalyst for us to sit down and say: ‘We understand that it has been a very difficult season for everyone involved, with our internationals being away and then coming back and expected to play in big games very quickly, but we have to be better than this’.

“And I thought the leadership group after that game were immense. They, along with the coaches, debriefed the whole thing, in terms of how we all turned up mentally – and I felt we bounced back really well. 

“It was a telling moment because we didn’t lose a game from then on, including beating Leinster in the last game of the season. 

“Up until that point the season had been painful, and that day was the most painful I’ve experienced with Glasgow – so that’s still in our mind and we want to put it right with a much better performance this weekend.”

That match was also a pivotal moment for Benetton, who had previously managed just one victory all season but kicked-on from there to claim the Rainbow Cup.

While Marco Bortolami’s side initially carried that momentum into this current campaign, beating both the Stormers and Edinburgh at home in the opening rounds of the United Rugby Championship, they have since lost three on the bounce (heavily in Ulster then narrowly at home to the Ospreys and away to the Scarlets). So, their form might not be razor sharp, but Wilson is adamant that the threat his team face is just as great as it was last time round.

“We found out in that game that if you don’t go there with the right mindset and the right approach then it is a very, very tough place,” he reasoned. “If we do get a win, then that’s massive in terms of our URC pool – and they’ve still got to come to us which would then be to our advantage.

“But the first hurdle is the only one we are focussed on. I think it would be a massive win for us – probably the biggest win so far if we can get it done.

Wilson has selected 12 players who got game time for Scotland during the recent Autumn Test Series in his match-day 23, while Rory Darge – who missed out on his first cap due to an ankle injury – returns to action at open-side flanker.

However, Warriors are missing some of their most experienced and influential players, with Lions duo Ali Price and Zander Fagerson being rested, Scott Cummings injured, and co-captain Ryan Wilson off playing for the Barbarians against Samoa at Twickenham.

“For Scott [Cummings], we're hoping it's just a one-week injury with a shoulder issue from Scotland’s game against Japan,” explained Wilson, who has appointed Sam Johnson as captain for this match.

“With Ali and Zander, we need to manage rest time for certain players, so there's a big picture plan for those guys,” he added. “They get a rest this weekend, and you'll see some more get a rest next weekend. We cannot go from four Test matches on the bounce, into two league games, two European games, two derbies, back to the league, Europe again and then back into Six Nations, without any breaks – they'll be burnt out.  So, we've got to manage them, and this is part of that process.” 

The other notable absentee is newly capped Scotland hooker Ewan Ashman, who was unveiled on Monday as a loan signing until the end of the season but has now been recalled by Sale Sharks as emergency injury cover.

“Sale need him to play this weekend and he wasn't due to play for us, although he has been here getting up to speed with things,” said Wilson. “This is a one-off, a bit of goodwill between two clubs and a game for Ewan – but you'll see him playing for us very soon.”

Glasgow Warriors (v Benetton at the Stadio Monigo, Saturday 1pm British time): C Forbes; K Steyn, S Tuipulotu, S Johnson©, R McLean; R Thompson, G Horne; J Bhatti, G Turner, O Kebble, R Harley, R Gray, M Fagerson, R Darge, J Dempsey. Replacements: J Matthews, N McBeth, E Pieretto, K McDonald, T Gordon, J Dobie, D Weir, O Smith.