Restoring battered pride will be Ireland's objective when they meet France in the 2004 RBS 6 Nations opener.
Their World Cup quarter-final defeat by Les Bleus remains a sore point for the Irish, and coach Eddie O'Sullivan is determined to prove his side can mix it with the big boys on a consistent basis.
O'Sullivan insists an immediate rematch against the French is exactly what his team need to exorcise the demons of their defeat in Melbourne, but with key players injured he could be facing more of the same.
Brian O'Driscoll is the biggest loss, while the absence of Geordan Murphy, Denis Hickie, Marcus Horan and Eric Miller will also be keenly felt as Ireland field 11 of the team which went down in the Telstra Dome.
The gifted Munster second row Paul O'Connell will lead the team in O'Driscoll's absence - it will be his first taste of captaincy at anything higher than club level - and his combative approach will be just what Ireland need in the Stade de France.
Gordon D'Arcy also has much to prove after being handed the number 13 shirt in what will be his first international start, but it is still difficult to look beyond a French victory - despite the appearance of their two debutants.
William Servat has been given the task of filling the shoes of the old campaigner Raphael Ibanez while Pascal Pape features at lock. But despite their inexperience it is still a formidable Les Blues pack which should dominate up-front.
Serge Betsen, Olivier Magne and Imanol Harinordoquy are probably the best back row unit in the world, while behind the scrum Frederik Michalak will be gunning to erase memories of his abject World Cup semi-final performance against England.
The 2017 RBS 6 Nations was watched by record numbers of fans
29 March 2017, 12:25pm
After an enthralling RBS 6 Nations Championship of twists, turns, and no small amount of drama on the last day, figures show the RBS 6 Nations is going from strength to strength, year on year, with no sign of slowing down.