Indeed, it is quite a comedown for Ireland - but while they could boast two consecutive RBS 6 Nations titles heading into the opener, their injury count has threatened to spiral out of control.
And that number has only grown over the last fortnight after full-back Rob Kearney, and oft-injured loosehead Cian Healy, were ruled out of Round 4.
One key piece in Jared Payne does return however, with Joe Schmidt admitting he is too vital to Ireland's defence in the centres to consider keeping unlucky new cap, Stuart McCloskey, in the matchday squad.
As far as full-back is concerned, Ireland are well covered as the versatile Simon Zebo takes the place of Kearney and the uncapped Finlay Bealham will be Jack McGrath's understudy at loosehead in Healy's absence.
On the face of it, it would seem an ideal time for Italy to secure a first victory over Ireland since the 2013 RBS 6 Nations, and only a second since 1997.
But they too have been hit by the injury curse hard as half-back pairing Carlo Canna and Edoardo Gori, not to mention hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, are just three key names missing from the matchday squad.
Scrum-half Guglielmo Palazzani, with 18 caps, has experience but it's a welcome to the major leagues for Edoardo Padovani - the fly-half's two replacement appearances this year are the sum of his experience at Test level.
However, it speaks of Jacques Brunel's faith in the 22-year-old that he has supplanted a far more experienced Kelly Haimona in the starting line-up.
Joe Schmidt (Ireland coach): "I sense it, I'll admit it to you, I really sense it. I know we have to win this weekend."
Jacques Brunel (Italy coach): "Padovani and Palazzani play together with Zebre, they have built up habits and a partnership through playing together. So that choice was also made in relation to this situation."
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Gonzalo Garcia v Robbie Henshaw
Experience is scarce when it comes to Italy but in Gonzalo Garcia, they have a wily old centre who has the attributes to disrupt Robbie Henshaw's rhythm in Dublin.
Henshaw has the size and weight advantage, and it is easy to forget that for however young he is, the 22-year-old is on the verge of earning his 19th cap for Ireland.
He has been shifted back inside after Jared Payne's return to the line-up where he meets Garcia, who is always industrious with his carries and has a sweet right peg to boot.
Italy have only won once in Ireland and that was in 1997, a famous 37-29 victory at Lansdowne Road.
Ireland inflicted their heaviest defeat on Italy in 2003, a 61-6 win in the build-up to the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
In between 1997 and 2013, Ireland strung together 17 consecutive wins over the Azzurri.
Jack McGrath has got through 40 tackles in the Championship so far and he's likely to be pushed even more after the uncapped Finlay Bealham took the injured Cian Healy's place on the bench.
CJ Stander and Jamie Heaslip's tackle counts are not too far behind and they will be sniffing for a try, particularly if Ireland's set-piece dominates.
Simon Zebo is an interesting shout at full-back and he has managed to find the try-line twice in his seven Ireland starts in a No.15 jersey.
Sergio Parisse aside, Michele Campagnaro is a workhorse for Italy in both defence and attack while Francesco Minto tops the Azzurri tackle count so far with 27.
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