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A lengthy injury list and the absence of head coach Warren Gatland – absent on British and Irish Lions duty – further compounds Wales’ problems.
But skipper Warburton, speaking at the launch of the 2013 RBS 6 Nations at the Hurlingham Club in London, believes Wales should not be written off just yet.
“The main thing I learned over the autumn was that I don’t like losing,” said flanker Warburton.
“But it’s a really nice feeling to come into this championship as the champions.
“I’m not too sure how much form plays a part in the championship. You have to wait until one or two games are over to see how everyone is shaping up.
“But the key for us is confidence in our ability and to know that you don’t become a bad team overnight, just as you don’t become a good team overnight.”
After finishing third in last season’s championship Ireland are one of two teams to confirm a change of captain from 12 months ago.
Talismanic centre Brian O’ Driscoll missed last year’s edition with injury and the same fate has befallen his replacement in 2012, Paul O’Connell, with coach Declan Kidney opting to hand the armband to Jamie Heaslip.
The appointment of Heaslip, the Leinster No.8, brings to an end club-mate O’Driscoll’s ten-year run as Ireland skipper, during which time he led his country to the 2009 Grand Slam.
And Heaslip, 29, admits he’ll lean on the 34-year-old O’Driscoll for support as he looks to start the coming campaign by avenging last year’s dramatic defeat to Wales.
“Brian is the same player, same professional, same teammate, I’ve seen it with the Lions, Ireland and Leinster,” said Heaslip, who stood in for the injured O’Driscoll during the autumn.
“He doesn’t talk any more or any less, his standard of training is the same. He’s still the ultimate pro that he is and it is fantastic that he is in the squad and I can lean on him for experience.
“It is a big game against Wales who are a dangerous side, a lot of people think they are not on form because of November but most games they were a score or two away from having a quite different November series.
“We know all too well that they play a full 80 minutes, it is a tall challenge and the fact they beat us the last three times just makes that challenge that little bit harder.”
Like Heaslip this time round, England captain Chris Robshaw was just starting out as an international captain in 2012 but after ending the All Blacks' 20-game unbeaten run in December much is expected of Stuart Lancaster’s side.
The Red Rose finished runners-up in 2012 with defeat to Wales the only blot on their copybook but Robshaw accepts his side must deal with added expectations in 2013 – starting with the visit of Scotland to Twickenham.
“There is a slightly different pressure on the squad now and it is about how we go about dealing with that,” he said.
“It is a new challenge for the squad but so far they have put their hand up to a lot of challenges that have been thrown their way.”
Scotland, meanwhile, will be led by interim head coach Scott Johnson, who will fill a similar position to that of Lancaster last season.
“First and foremost we will be focussing on ourselves but there are certain similarities between England last year and us this year,” said Johnson.
“So we’ll look at what they achieved just as we look at what everyone achieved.
“We’re the poor little boys on the step, whoever we play against will be the favourites but it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to.”
In 2011 Italy claimed one of the most famous victories in the tournament’s history when they defeated France 22-21 at the Stadio Flaminio – their first victory over Les Bleus in the Championship.
France return to Italy on February 3 with Azzurri coach Jacques Brunel and opposite number Philippe Saint-Andre both gearing up for their second RBS 6 Nations in charge.
Saint-Andre’s side have been installed as the early favourites for the competition but after the chastening defeat two years ago the former wing is not looking beyond next week’s opener in Rome.
“We have just won four games consecutively and now we look to try and win five,” said Saint-Andre, who has selected Pascal Pape as captain ahead of Thierry Dusautoir.
“We watched the performance of Italy in November and they played very well against Australia.
“We know Italy have a very good team. We know the coach as he is a French coach. We respect them very much and it will not be an easy game.”
Brunel’s Italy defeated Scotland 13-6 at the Stadio Olimpico on the final day of last year’s competition to avoid the wooden spoon but almost claimed their second major scalp in as many years when they gave England a fright on the same ground in round two.
Stade Francais back-rower Sergio Parisse will again lead the Azzurri and the 91-cap flanker is hoping his side can summon the spirit of 2011.
“I think every year playing against France is always a really tough game, especially when we play away and this year we have the chance to play them at home,” he said.
“Two years ago we beat them at home and it was one of my best memories in the Six Nations.
“Every year is different and we arrive with a lot of confidence after November but France also played good rugby.
“It is one of the teams who can win this Six Nations so starting against them is a big challenge and one we will try to start our Six Nations well against.”