Ireland's triumph at Twickenham in the last round of RBS 6 Nations action has thrown the tournament wide open.
England's Grand Slam defence is in tatters, their bid for a second clean sweep of scalps derailed in spectacular style, and now the Irish have an opportunity to snatch the title for themselves.
The destiny of the championship is not entirely in their hands - they must hope that Sir Clive Woodward's men beat France in Paris in the concluding match - but they can improve their chances with heavy victories over Ireland and then Scotland a week later.
Even then the healthy points difference amassed by England and France means it is a long shot, but if Ireland do fail it will not be through lack of effort and application.
Against England they showed what dangerous opponents they can be, and with Leicester flyer Geordan Murphy back in the starting line-up after his rehabilitation from a broken leg, they have one of the most dangerous players in Europe.
Murphy, Gordon D'Arcy, Ronan O'Gara and Brian O'Driscoll provide the Irish backs with plenty of firepower, while up-front Paul O'Connell, Simon Easterby and Shane Byrne would start for the British Lions on current form.
Italy obviously lack Ireland's talent but they have an uncompromising pack and tight defence - just ask Scotland who crashed to a 20-14 defeat at the Stadio Flaminio in their last outing.
The loss of inspirational number eight Sergio Parisse will be keenly felt however - he was stretchered off against the Scots after picking up a muscle injury and is replaced by Scott Palmer.