While Wasps have lost just one of their 17 tournament matches - 19-17 at Racing-Metro 92 back in January - the Blues are appearing in the tournament courtesy of qualifying as one of the Heineken Cup Pool runners-up.
"The inclusion of the Heineken Cup sides certainly adds a bit of spice to the tournament," said Shaw. "And it is certainly an improved format. By dropping those sides down and having the best of the Amlin Challenge Cup teams, you have effectively got the calibre of the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.
"Any European match adds a bit of extra spice but England versus Wales doesn't necessarily come into it for me. You just want to play European rugby at the highest level.
"I have always loved playing in European competition, even if it's playing Bucharest away for Bristol - European fixtures are fantastic and I love them all. As you get to my stage in rugby, you treasure European games and big away trips more than anything because you think that it could be the last one.
"Cardiff Blues will be disappointed that they got knocked out of the Heineken Cup at the group stages and they'll want to prove a point by coming down to our place and showing that they're more deserving than we are of being in this position.
"Cardiff Blues and ourselves are both playing some great attacking rugby at the moment and we know they have got class players throughout their side. They are a fantastic team.
"There are the guys who went on the Lions tour and also a couple of Kiwis such as Xavier Rush, who is a fantastic ball carrier. We played them a couple of years ago and the players were coming off left, right and centre with bangs and bruises, so you always know it's going to be a physical battle.
"At the same time, there's been a bit of running rugby going on so I think it will be a tremendous encounter.
"I think thoughts that rugby as a whole was turning into a bit of a dour game have been flipped on their heads. I said at the time that rugby sometimes goes through a bit of a phase where, for whatever reason, coaches want their players to play in a certain way.
"But now everything seems to have freed up and everyone wants to play open, running rugby, which is fantastic for everyone."
On still going strong at 37-years-old and hunting for that fourth medal, Shaw added: "It's nice to be up there in that list of three medal winners and hopefully the three of us at Wasps can make it four.
"Back then at the start I thought I was invincible until I got a shock in 1995 and got a couple of serious injuries and thought it might all be over. But since then, I've taken every year as it comes and I'm grateful that I've been able to carry on as long as I have.
"The winner of the Amlin Challenge Cup automatically qualifies for the Heineken Cup, a tournament that has grown incredibly. The interest that the Heineken Cup generates in terms of crowds is immense - its popularity is just fantastic."