Captain Fabien Pelous has insisted France need to start their RBS 6 Nations title defence well against wooden spoon holders Scotland as they look to keep their chances alive of achieving another Grand Slam.
Les Bleus are also eager to erase the disappointing autumn tour that saw them defeat Australia but suffer heavy losses to Argentina and New Zealand last November.
Winning the RBS 6 Nations again is more a matter of pride and ambition less than three years before the 2007 World Cup, which will be held in France.
''The objective is always to win the Grand Slam,'' said Pelous, who is also the most capped French player with 96 appearances.
''But if we start the tournament badly this ambition will be destroyed.''
France have won their last six matches against the Scots, with the last two by large scores in the 2004 tournament and the 2003 World Cup.
''We were more powerful than them in our last two matches and we had managed to create for them a lot of problems in the scrum, the touchline, everywhere,'' said Pelous.
''The Scots have qualities of course, but if we trick them on their weaknesses, that is to say their lack of strength and the scrum, we should be fine.
''However, if we let them play, and if we fail to dominate the basics of the game, they can be dangerous. They are capable of beating big sides.''
Mako Vunipola, Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs will all start for England in Rome, with Saracens' Maro Itoje finally set for his debut from the bench as Eddie Jones adjusts his line-up ahead of their trip to Italy.