France team manager Jo Maso knows Saturday's RBS 6 Nations showdown with Ireland will be a real test for the defending champions.
The two sides meet at Lansdowne Road with the hosts, who beat England last time out, still in contention for a possible clean sweep.
A triumph for the Irish would set up a probable winner-takes-all match with Wales for the Grand Slam in the final fixture and Maso admits such a scenario would have seemed unlikely when he first joined coach Bernard Laporte at the helm of Les Bleus.
"Just 18 months ago, we scored more than 40 points against the Irish but I don't think that will happen again because Ireland have not changed their team all that much since the World Cup," said Maso.
France's build-up to the match in Dublin has been marred by injuries and Laporte once again has been forced to ring the changes.
Benoit Baby gets his full baptism in international rugby with the Toulouse centre a late call-up in place of the injured Ludovic Valbon who has a calf problem.
Valbon himself had been drafted in to replace Damien Traille who has also been ruled out with an injury.
The match will be a notable occasion for France skipper Fabien Pelous who will join the select band of players who have won 100 caps.
There is also a doubt for replacement hooker William Servat, who is struggling with a bruised right knee. Beziers hooker Dimitri Szarzewski has been drafted into the squad in case Servat is unfit.
Frederic Michalak is another with a question mark against his name and if he fails a fitness test, his place on the bench will be taken by Benjamin Boyet.
Whatever happens, Maso says this is one match he and all of France look forward to each year.
"It's always a pleasure to take on the Irish," said Maso.
"They are the people (in the Six Nations) we the French have the most in common with."
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.