English champions Sale have welcomed a Heineken Cup draw which pits them against Stade Francais, the Ospreys and Italian side Calvisano.
"It is clearly good news that we have avoided some of the dangerous unseeded teams, particularly Munster," said Sale chief executive Niels de Vos.
"It must be our objective to finish top of this group and to secure a home quarter-final.
"But that will be very tough in this sort of company."
Sale missed out on a home quarter-final this year after being crushed by Munster in Limerick, despite winning the first five games of their group.
Instead they had to endure a quarter-final in San Sebastian, where they were beaten 11-6 by eventual finalists Biarritz.
Northampton head coach Paul Grayson was unsurprisingly pleased with his side's draw, against French champions Biarritz, Italians Overmach Parma and Scottish region Borders.
"We've faced Biarritz before and we're very aware of how difficult that will be, and Parma and the Borders will also present us with tough opposition," he said.
"But if we can stay strong at home and pick up what we can from the away games we're hopeful that we have enough about us to get out of the group."
Gloucester head coach Dean Ryan hailed his side's opponents - Leinster, Agen and Edinburgh - as a "fantastic pool".
"I think every team has a good chance of progressing, which makes our group very interesting and extremely exciting," he said.
"Leinster were the flair team in the tournament last season, particularly in the quarter-finals.
"I know from experience that any trip to France can test the bounds of physical endurance to the limits and Edinburgh are also a very, very competitive side."