England have not beaten France since their 2003 World Cup semi-final success in Sydney - and it is a sequence they could struggle to end on Sunday.
France, RBS 6 Nations title favourites and on the trail of a Grand Slam, will arrive at Twickenham in confident mood.
Coach Bernard Laporte has recalled Biarritz scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili, who scored 53 of his team's 73 points during the past three victories over England, with prop Pieter De Villiers and number eight Sebastien Chabal also back.
England, in contrast, offer a sense of disarray.
They have lost captain Phil Vickery, fly-half Jonny Wilkinson and centre Andy Farrell to injuries, meaning a recall for 35-year-old London Irish back Mike Catt as skipper and a first start at number 10 for Toby Flood, 14 years Catt's junior.
But it is up-front where England really must deliver, having been taken apart by a rampant Irish pack at Croke Park two weeks ago.
Props Tim Payne and Julian White, lock Tom Palmer, flanker Tom Rees and number eight Nick Easter have all been drafted in, while Leicester number eight Martin Corry moves to the second-row for only a second Test start as lock during a 52-cap Test career.
France though, hold all the aces, especially if they establish dominance in the forward battle, which would then allow the likes of Yannick Jauzion, Christophe Dominici and Clement Poitrenaud a chance to cut loose.
England will need to produce probably their strongest post-World Cup performance to threaten the French, yet even that might not be enough if the visitors hit top gear and Yachvili continues his personal points blitz on a struggling home team.