According to Cotter missing World Cup players, meant, " a slow start to the season and having only two matches before the start of the Heineken Cup threw us off balance." Yet they managed a 48-21 win over Llanelli Scarlets in their Heineken opener before losing 36-13 to Munster in Thomond Park next time out.
Cotter shipped a lot of criticism for his selection that day but he defended himself then and continues to do so. " The team we fielded at Thomond Park was looked at as a second string team but was part of our longer term game-plan to have a large on-form squad to sustain us through a very long season."
And looking at Clermont's position in the French Championship (2nd) and Heineken Cup Pool it's hard to fault his logic.
"We're hoping to reap the benefits of this preparation through the second half of the season starting with the match against Munster on Sunday." he says.
"We know that if we can beat Munster we have to take the game to Llanelli and then we are looking at qualification to the knock-out stages."
And although he trots out the requisite line about Munster being a strong side etc etc, the underlying feeling is possibly best summed up by his comment that, "we are of course, expecting a tough match but we are confident and ready for this match."