Wales kick-off their RBS 6 Nations campaign at home against Scotland, hoping to build on two outstanding World Cup displays.
Wales showed their quality by running both England and New Zealand close in Australia last November and coach Steve Hansen accepts there will be considerable expectancy from the Welsh public on his team.
"We played two of the best sides in the world during the World Cup, and we have got to learn from those experiences, but we have a belief that we can perform on the international stage," said Hansen.
"We should relish the public expectation. We are going into the tournament in better shape, both physically and mentally.
"We had the squad together between June and November last year, and we got a lot of work done. Self-belief is a huge factor in any team, and we have also been very fortunate in terms of injuries."
Hansen, though, expects a tough challenge from Scotland at the Millennium Stadium.
Scotland will have a new coach in charge, Australian Matt Williams, while they will be further boosted by Edinburgh's considerable achievement in reaching the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.
"Scotland have had a very good pack for some time that has been extremely competitive, and this is going to be a really tough game," Hansen added.
"Every team wants to win the first game in any tournament, and this is no exception."
Hansen will renew acquaintances with his fellow New Zealander and Scotland assistant coach Todd Blackadder.
"I know him pretty well. I have played rugby with him, coached him and spent a lot of time with him socially," he said.
"He will bring a strong sense of purpose to his coaching role, and he won't be frightened of the job. We speak regularly, and there has certainly been a bit of banter lately."
Wales' acting head coach Rob Howley has given Sam Davies and Rory Thornton a boost ahead of the RBS 6 Nations by naming the uncapped Ospreys duo in his largely experienced squad for the Autumn Internationals.