Twelve months ago Italy faced an Ireland team ravaged by injuries and prevailed in what proved to be Declan Kidney's last match in charge but this time around Joe Schmidt has taken the Men in Green to the top of the pile.
Making matters worse for Brunel is that Italy are still without a win following three defeats and they are without captain Sergio Parisse, who has a minor calf injury and will sit out proceedings in Dublin as a result.
Brunel has made three other changes with Tito Tebaldi and Luciano Orquera forming a new half-back pairing while Marco Bortolami comes into the second row to skipper the side.
"With five players unavailable we had to adapt ourselves," he said. "Among the half-backs we wanted to give a chance to those who had played less like (Luciano) Orquera, also because against Scotland we didn't manage the pressure well in our half.
"I wanted to integrate (Tito) Tebaldi into the group before the tournament but he had a slight injury and we couldn't select him.
"The choices made are not in relation to next Saturday's game in Rome against England but based on consistency that we want to have. The next match is against Ireland and we have prepared for the match against that opponent.
"Ireland is certainly a better squad than last year. But we have to remember that we beat them barely a year ago in Rome and in a rather convincing fashion. We have the chance to do so again."