Wales fly-half Stephen Jones is ready for a tale of the unexpected tomorrow night when they aim to complete another chapter in their RBS 6 Nations success story.
Victory over France would see Wales equal the RBS 6 Nations record of nine successive wins, held jointly by Les Bleus and England.
Wales are unbeaten in the tournament for almost two years and will arrive at Stade de France to face a team whose disrupted preparation has been dominated by selection wildcards.
France coach Marc Lievremont has handed a debut in midfield to Stade Francais prospect Mathieu Bastareaud, named centre Benoit Baby at fly-half and sent out a rookie Test match goalkicker in Bastareaud’s fellow 20-year-old Morgan Parra at scrum-half.
Wales, conceivably, might never have a better chance of turning out the lights on France in the tournament’s first Friday night fixture.
But not even stand-off Jones, who spent two seasons in the French domestic game with Clermont Auvergne, knows what to expect.
Jones said: “I cracked a joke with our team analyst the other day.
“I said to him if we were playing against France every week, he would be out of a job because what’s the point of analysing the French?
“They’ve got a massive pool of quality players to begin with, so you never know which way selection is going to go. As for their style of play, who knows?
“When I played for Clermont there might be a game we were expected to win and we would underachieve in a big way.
“Then, if we were underdogs in a big way, we might pull out our best performance of the season.
“Everyone talks about French flair, and there is no doubt when they get going they are hard work to stop.
“Sometimes, defensively you are chasing shadows because they are so efficient in the way they move the ball. I am not sure how they are going to be on Friday night.
“We would be easier to analyse than the French. Maybe you can analyse us, but trying to nullify our game is a different thing.”
The Dragons have beaten France three times in five previous visits to Stade de France, the last four years ago helping them eventually landing a first Grand Slam since 1978.
A repeat performance tomorrow will leave Wales needing two more wins - Italy and Ireland await next month - to successfully defend the RBS 6 Nations title and complete their first back-to-back Grand Slams for 100 years.
Jones kicked three penalties and a conversion - and made a decisive long-range break that led to flanker Martyn Williams’ opening try - in 2005 as Wales fought back from nine points down to triumph 24-18.
“2005 was a great day, especially the second half,” Jones recalled. “We were totally outplayed in the first half but we came out and played some really good rugby after that.
“That break was was probably the only break I’ve made in international rugby! It was just turnover ball and there was a gap - I just kept on running, looking for support.
“It will be important for us to have a good start and put points on the board, but we know it is going to be a big ask for us.
“We need to stop France from off-loading in the tackle. They are also a bit different defensively to what we have come up against this year.
“They don’t fight the contact area so much. They tend to stay on their feet, flood the line and wait for the opposition to send someone through.
“It is about us being smart when we’ve got the ball.”
While Jones and company enjoyed a weekend off, several of Lievremont’s squad went hammer and tongs in a full French domestic programme, highlighted by Clermont meeting Toulouse just four days ago.
“Toulouse versus Clermont would have been full-on,” said Jones. “It will have been a big challenge for their coach, I think, as to how he used his time this week.
“He has had a limited amount of time and he will have wanted to put as much organisational work into them as he possibly can.”