The 2005 RBS 6 Nations promised to be the most competitive championship since Italy's entrance five years ago - and it has not disappointed.
Wales, Ireland and France are locked in a three-way battle for the title which will be decided by 5:30pm at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
England's clash with Scotland, which kicks off at 6pm, should occupy few minds as the intriguing contest promised in Cardiff will surely provide the Six Nations with the end it deserves.
There is much at stake for both sides - a Triple Crown, Grand Slam and championship title are on all on the line as the Celtic rivals attempt to wrestle the crown from Anglo-French hands for the first time in Six Nations history.
Ireland enter the match with their proud 22-year unbeaten record to protect but this season should see it come under greater pressure than ever before thanks to Wales' impressive form.
They have grown in confidence since their opening day victory over England and possess a side bristling with gifted runners who are revelling in the attacking ethos adopted by coach Mike Ruddock.
Brian O'Driscoll is Ireland's main source of creativity and it is a burden he has had to shoulder almost alone since Gordon D'Arcy suffered a hamstring injury against Italy, contrasting with Wales who host several match winners.
Much will depend on how Wales cope with the pressure of being Grand Slam champions in waiting with Ireland undoubtedly having more experience of the big-match occasion.
K Morgan (Newport Gwent); R Williams (Cardiff), T Shanklin (Cardiff), G Henson (Neath-Swansea), S Williams (Neath-Swansea); S Jones (Clermont Auvergne); D Peel (Llanelli); G Jenkins (Cardiff), M Davies (Gloucester), A Jones (Neath-Swansea), B Cockbain (Neath-Swansea), R Sidoli (Cardiff), R Jones (Neath-Swansea), M Williams (Cardiff), M Owen (Newport Gwent, capt).
Replacements: R McBryde (Llanelli), J Yapp (Cardiff), J Thomas (Neath-Swansea), R Sowden-Taylor (Cardiff), M Phillips (Llanelli), C Sweeney (Newport Gwent), H Luscombe (Newport Gwent).
G Murphy (Leicester); G Dempsey (Leinster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), K Maggs (Ulster), D Hickie (Leinster); R O'Gara (Munster), P Stringer (Munster); R Corrigan (Leinster), S Byrne (Leinster), J Hayes (Munster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Easterby (Llanelli), J O'Connor (Wasps), A Foley (Munster).
Replacements: F Sheahan (Munster), M Horan (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), E Miller (Leinster), G Easterby (Leinster), D Humphreys (Ulster), G Duffy (Harlequins).
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.