Wasps boss David Young admits he is surprised that London Irish currently find themselves in the Aviva Premiership's lower reaches.
Young's team head to the Madejski Stadium on Sunday, where victory would strengthen their title play-off claims and leave Irish entrenched in a relegation dogfight.
Sale Sharks and London Welsh are also in the danger zone, which is an area that Wasps frequented last season before Newcastle ultimately dropped into the Championship.
But although Irish were beaten comprehensively by Bath last time out, they accounted for title-chasing Saracens in emphatic fashion the previous weekend.
"I have no doubt they are targeting their home games hard, and the fact that they beat Saracens there last time out highlights that," Young said.
"I think they have quality players across their team and I am surprised they are where they are in the table.
"We know that they are desperate for points, and we know what that feels like after last year."
Wasps beat Gloucester 33-29 in a thrilling tussle last weekend, but Young added: "Our video debrief on Tuesday was pretty sobering.
"We rode our luck a bit in a game that we didn't play that well in, apart from a 20-minute spell in the middle, and the boys were left under no illusions about the performance after we looked at it in detail.
"We are getting the rub of the green at the moment, which is something that hasn't gone for us over the last year or so.
"There are some tough games coming up, and we know we've got Gloucester and Northampton breathing down our necks, but we are enjoying being up there.
"Top six is now a very realistic target for us, and if we can secure Heineken Cup qualification after what we went through last year that will be a huge boost."
Young has made three changes to his line-up this weekend, with Will Taylor handed a start in the front-row, while Jonathan Poff replaces an injured Billy Vunipola, packing down at openside flanker with Sam Jones moving to number eight, and Elliot Daly taking over from Chris Bell.
Irish, meanwhile, have bolstered their back-row by recalling flanker Ofisa Treviranus and number eight Chris Hala'Ufia, while star back Sailosi Tagicakibau has recovered from a knee injury and is named on the bench.
"Wasps are a formidable team riding high in the Premiership, so they will give us a very tough test on Sunday," Irish rugby director Brian Smith said.
"In saying that, we do pretty well against the top four teams at home and our boys are itching to put in a big performance for our supporters."
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