Dragons hooker Steve Jones will lead the Dragons as they take on Pro12 newcomers Zebre at Rodney Parade on Friday.
New signings Dan Evans, Tom Prydie and Ian Nimmo all start, with Jevon Groves joining Grand Slam duo Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau in the back-row, with captain James Harris missing with a calf problem.
Zebre have replaced Aironi in the league with Dragons head coach Darren Edwards admitting he will be taking his side into the unknown.
"Playing the unknown does cause problems but it also enables us to focus on ourselves and our own game," said Edwards.
"It's what we've done through this pre-season - especially leading into the London Irish game - we didn't know how they would play but we focussed on our own game and produced a strong performance and a great result.
"Zebre is a team with more internationals than the Dragons and a great deal of experience in the side.
"They have a very good support structure around them and are heavily supported by the Italian Federation so they are definitely a stronger side than many would give them credit for."
Meanwhile, Zebre technical director Christian Gajan has named his team for their opening debut game.
There will be a first start in the competition for Italian winger Samuele Pace, flanker Filippo Cristiano, lock Emiliano Caffini, prop David Ryan and number eight Andries Van Schalkwyk.
Form: Dragons have lost in round one in three of the past four seasons, and concluded last season's RaboDirect PRO12 campaign with four straight defeats. Dragons have a won 11, lost 4 record against Italian opponents in all competitions. Zebre become the 24th different side to have participated in the tournament, which began as the Celtic League in season 2001/02.
Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Tom Prydie, 10 Steffan Jones, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Jevon Groves, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Andrew Coombes, 4 Ian Nimmo, 3 Dan Way, 2 Steve Jones (c), 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Nathan Williams, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Tom Brown, 21 J Evans, 22 Lewis Robling, 23 Ashley Smith.
Zebre: 15 Sinoti Sinoti, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Gonzalo Garcia (c), 11 Samuele Pace, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Filippo Cristiano, 6 Nicola Cattina, 5 Emiliano Caffini, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 David Ryan, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Andrea De Marchie, 18 Luciano Leibson, 19 Filippo Cazzola, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Alberto Chiesa, 23 Ruggero Trevisan.
Date: Friday, August 31
Kick-off: 19:00 BST
Venue: Rodney Parade
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Neil Hennessy (Wales), Jason Langdon (Wales)