Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery has warned his side they must "hit the ground running" when they meet France on Saturday.
The Irish made a poor start to their RBS 6 Nations Championship campaign with unfancied Italy restricting them to an unconvincing 26-16 victory at Lansdowne Road.
Skipper Brian O'Driscoll admitted after the game that if Ireland misfire so spectacularly again, they will be "obliterated" by the French who will be desperate to avenge yesterday's 20-16 shock defeat by Scotland.
They did not recover from Italy's early onslaught until the second half and Flannery knows a similar opening against Les Bleus will be punished far more ruthlessly.
"We just have to be ready for what's waiting when we run out against France. We have to hit the ground running against them and can't afford to be sloppy," he said.
"Pace-wise I've played games for Munster which have been jut as fast as Saturday's match but Italy were very physical.
"I'd never played against the Italians before but they were bruisers and France will be the same.
"Maybe if we'd been quicker off the mark matching then in terms of physicality it would have been easier for us.
"The lads told me Italy would be the most physical pack in the Six Nations and France will offer a similar challenge."
Flannery celebrated his full Test debut - he made a substitute appearance against Romania in November - with the opening try.
O'Driscoll suggested it was Ronan O'Gara who actually touched down only to slip the ball to Flannery, but the Munster front row confirmed afterwards the try was "definitely" his.
Overall the Test rookie was pleased with his first RBS 6 Nations performance and felt Ireland's line-out improved dramatically after the interval.
"It was great to score on my debut. It was such a tight game and we needed the points on the board," he said.
England flanker James Haskell insists he will be pushing as hard as possible to be back from a toe injury in time to make his case for a spot in Eddie Jones' side looking to defend their RBS 6 Nations title next year.