Coach Craig Chalmers has warned Esher they will be marked men in National Division One this season.
The Molesey Road outfit hardly lived up to their title-hopefuls moniker as they were humiliated 81-12 at Championship side London Scottish on Saturday.
Esher return to the scene of that debacle when they visit Richmond for the league opener tomorrow.
And Chalmers knows his side, which finished second under Ollie Smith last season, will have to improve if they are to mount a promotion challenge this term.
“In the few weeks I’ve been here it is clear there are things we need to improve on if we are to compete to win things this season,” said the former Scotland international.
“It is a long season. Nothing is decided yet, but everybody will want to beat us.
“We are one of the teams expected to be in the top five or six and Richmond are no different, so it will be a tough test first up.”
Tries from Luke Daniels and Stewart Maguire were the only high points against Scottish, and Chalmers thought the result will have given Richmond a boost.
“I think we made them look good by missing first up tackles. We cannot afford to make the same basic mistakes again,” he added.
“Richmond will have taken a lot of positives from watching us at the weekend.”
Richmond director of rugby Steve Hill will hope Esher do not bounce back from their London Scottish mauling like his side did at the weekend.
Richmond crashed 45-5 to their co-tenants last week, but responded by winning 29-10 at Hartpury College on Saturday.
The Athletic Ground side welcome Esher on the opening day of the National Division One season and Hill expects a tough start.
“Our performance was a significant improvement on a week ago. We’re looking forward to the end of the phoney war and the start of the real battles,” he said.
“The RFU have given us a very tough start, but I know all the players relish the challenge.”