France may have wrecked England's hopes with their 20-15 victory in Paris on the way to last season's Grand Slam but their captain Fabien Galthie's words came with an air of respect as he pronounced: "England are the best team in the world."
At Twickenham this weekend, France will be aiming to prove they are the better team on the day when the two favourites for this year's RBS 6 Nations title clash on the opening day of this season's championship.
But, despite their success the last time the sides met, the French have adopted a low-profile, almost respectful approach, consigning the days when the rival factions hurled insults across the Channel to the dustbin of history.
Far from rubbishing England, Galthie acknowledged the huge task facing his side as they aim to end England's incredible run of 18 victories at what has become known as fortress Twickenham.
"They play well and have the capacity to win against every team. The statistics are there to prove it," said the Stade Francais scrum-half who celebrates his 34th birthday next month.
The veteran of a 13-year international career and more than half a century of caps still believes: "It's very exciting to play at Twickenham.
"When England play there, there is the capacity for teams to play their best rugby. It's a very exciting match to look forward to.
"The English team is a European team. When you play against the Southern Hemisphere side they are big and powerful, the typical All Black has good hands and is big and strong. But the English team are able to adapt and adjust their game."
Andy Farrell admits the process of selecting England's 50-man training squad ahead of the World Cup was rigorous - but the backs and defence coach also revealed how tough it was to leave some stars out.