The capital rivals collide in the opening match of Saturday's traditional curtain-raiser to the English league season, the London double header. Quins claimed their first Premiership crown last term while Wasps only narrowly escaped relegation on the final day.
Speaking about the defending champions, Young said: "The players coming through the academy, the way they play the game, the matchday experience - it seems that Harlequins have got it right. It's something for us all to look at and try to emulate."
Wasps began last season with fine victories over title-chasing Saracens and Leicester, only for an astonishing injury list and financial problems to see them slump down the table.
"We won the first two games and then everything went downhill. We peaked too early," said Young, who has selected James Haskell at blindside flanker.
"But you don't get a true reflection of where teams are in the first few weeks. We're picking from a nigh on full-strength squad for Quins, which is a massive positive, but there was a bit of hangover from last season in the first month of pre-season.
"Harlequins present the toughest possible start for us and we will rightly go into the game as firm underdogs."
Saracens give a debut to England winger Chris Ashton in the second of the two games at Twickenham, against London Irish.
Danny Cipriani has been selected on the bench for Sale's trip to Exeter with the Sharks giving full debuts to Scotland lock Richie Gray and South African centre Corne Uys.
Rugby league convert Kyle Eastmond will make his first start for Bath when they travel to Worcester after injury resulted in him making only three appearances from the bench last season.
Gloucester give a debut to England number eight Ben Morgan against Northampton. In Sunday's only fixture, Premiership newcomers London Welsh host last year's beaten finalists Leicester at Kassam Stadium.