Eddie O'Sullivan has warned against complacency setting into the Ireland squad ahead of Saturday's RBS 6 Nations opener against Italy at Croke Park.
The Ireland coach believes the Azzurri, under new coach Nick Mallett, will pose a serious threat to their hopes of an opening-day win and that the selection of Biarritz centre Andrea Masi at number 10 shows just how serious the visitors are taking this contest.
"Putting Masi at number 10 is probably the big talking point. It will be interesting because he is a good player and a very good footballer," O'Sullivan admitted.
"His experience at out-half wouldn't be as broad as it is at centre but he is certainly a ball-in-hand type player.
"I think it's going to be a game where they will run at us and take us on physically. I think (Masi) is there for that purpose and what I can tell from what I hear is that they see him as a long-term project there."
O'Sullivan believes that the Masi-Pietro Travagli half-back partnership will cause his own combination of Ronan O’Gara and Eoin Reddan some problems in Saturday's game.
"When you consider how many caps O'Gara has had and that Reddan has taken the place of (Peter) Stringer, obviously the experience in these positions is to Ireland's advantage,” the coach said.
"From Italy's point of view it's important to try these two players (Masi and Travagli). We don't have the luxury of seeing them play for provincial sides together so we have to watch them play for the national team.
"Their coach is trying to introduce them to variety in the way they play and, in order to do that, they need a ball player that can be dangerous and a threat."
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll believes that after a misfiring World Cup campaign, the RBS 6 Nations is all about taking each game as it comes.
"I have been asked all week and last week too about other games and where we feel our goals should be for this championship and in all honesty I haven't given any thought to any other game other than Italy," the Leinster centre admitted.
"Perhaps we made the error of looking beyond our games in the World Cup so we're not going to fall and make that mistake again. Our sole focus is about tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon and I will be happy to answer questions about France and subsequent games after that."
A hopeful O’Driscoll believes that a win on Saturday would be very important in ensuring the cloud of the World Cup disaster is not left hanging over his side.
"Winning is very important obviously, it would be nice to get a bit of continuity back into our game, the way we know we can play.
"If you wanted to give us a dirty win, I'm sure we would take it."