Wales coach Warren Gatland insists Italy deserve to be treated with more respect - and he has been drumming home that message to his players all week.
The Azzurri have arrived in Cardiff for Saturday’s Millennium Stadium showdown on the back of two narrow defeats to Ireland and England.
Gatland does not believe Italy were given due credit for their performances, and Wales know from bitter first-hand experience that under-estimating the Azzurri is a dangerous business.
Wales have not beaten Italy since the 2005 grand slam campaign, having been held to an 18-18 draw at the Millennium Stadium two years ago and defeated 23-20 in Rome last year.
“People have talked about the poor performances of Ireland and England, but let’s start giving the Italians some credit,” said Gatland.
“Lots of their players play in France and are doing really well. They have been in this tournament for a number of years now. Let’s expect them to start finishing higher up the table.
“How many years did it take France before they managed to compete well in what was the Five Nations?”
It took France 49 years to win their first championship outright - and while Italy still have some way to go, Gatland believes new coach Nick Mallett is driving them in the right direction.
The pair go back a long way, to Test matches between Gatland’s Ireland and Mallett’s South Africa, to Heineken Cup clashes between Wasps and Stade Francais.
“We have been in each other’s company a number of times and we both share the desire to want to win,” said Gatland.
“I have a huge amount of respect for what he has achieved in rugby. He was really successful with South Africa and he went on to be successful at Stade Francais.
“After just a couple of games, I think he has done a great job already with the Italian side and he is building structures.”
Gatland guided Wales to victories over England and Scotland.
A shot at the triple crown awaits them in Ireland in a fortnight, but Gatland has been drilling home the message that nothing matters beyond this weekend.
Wales have not won three straight games since that grand slam campaign - and Gatland insists that is their only focus.
“You only have to look at the results of the last two years - a loss and a draw. If you under-estimate these guys, particularly with the experience they have, you will be caught short,” said Gatland.
“It is warfare out there. It will be really tough and physical for us. The Italians probably feel they have the experience to dominate us at scrum time, around the fringes and in driving play.
“We have to defend really well. We have put a huge amount of emphasis on making sure our defence is strong.”