Ireland are favourites to get the 2014 Six Nations Championship off to a winning start when Scotland are the visitors to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
However, Ireland’s celtic cousins are never ones to read formbooks and usually wear the underdogs tag proudly.
Many an Irish team has come unstuck against the Scottish raiders and at Murrayfield last year, they put over on the men from the Emerald Isle.
Ireland go into the game in good health, unlike the start of last year’s championship when they were down to the bare bones and struggled throughout.
A narrow loss to New Zealand when Ireland last played in Dublin in November - Irish fans need no reminding of the last gasp goal which secured a 24-22 win for the All Blacks.
But the performance was one of the best from an Irish side and, although a defeat, it was a result which already had people talking about a potential Six Nations side coming from Ireland.
However, the November Test series for all the Unions can be a poor guide for punters going into the Six Nations.
British Lion hooker, Rory Best said Scotland will, just like the All Blacks did last time out, punish every any lack of accuracy and physicality at the breakdown.
The Ulsterman, who is set to start in a side which will include clubmates, Chris Henry, Luke Marshall and Andrew Trimble, said “Their (Scotland’s) back row are very abrasive so you’ve go to roll up your sleeves and prepare for battle.
“You look at their pack, and the breakdown is massive.
“The back row will cause plenty of problems, but even Jim Hamilton and some of the front row, they are very dangerous over the ball if you let them get in.
“And it’s going to be very tough to slow their ball down because they are big men, they carry hard and they hit rucks hard too.
“It’s a great challenge against a big pack, but that brings pressure too, because you need to perform.”
The preparation could not be any better for the set piece confrontation accoding to Best with rookie international props Jack McGrath and Martin Moore turning scrummaging sessions into a fearsome contest, according to Rory Best.
Leinster duo McGrath and Moore are primed for bench duty on Sunday.
Fast-developing tighthead Moore is expected to win his first cap as a replacement, with experienced campaigners Cian Healy and Mike Ross Ireland’s starting props.
Best will win his 71st cap, with Sean Cronin among the replacements and McGrath in line for just his fourth international outing if he joins the fray.
Best admitted Ireland’s forwards have sunk their teeth into some testing scrum tussles in training at their Carton House base in Six Nations preparations.
“When we’re training in the scrum now, if you don’t get it right you’re going to get done, which is exactly what it will be like on Sunday,” said the 31-year-old who has just recently return from injury with his club.
“That is important. It obviously brings competition for places, which is good for everyone, with these young guys coming through.
“There’s some real competition in training there now. From that side of things it’s great to see, especially with their age profile too, these guys are young and have a fantastic future ahead of them.
“It’s important that they know now that this is just step one, getting into the extended squad is just step one.
“Then getting into the match-day squad is step two, and then you’ve got to be looking to start and push to better yourself every time.
“That’s the attitude they will adapt, they’ve already given that impression, and it’s great for the squad.
“Competition for places drives everyone on and hopefully raises standards across the board.”
Moore has just 23 senior Leinster appearances to his name since his provincial debut in April 2012.
The 22-year-old has racked up 18 of those in his breakthrough season though, and secured a new Leinster deal, snubbing interest from the likes of Aviva Premiership clubs Exeter and Harlequins.