Four years ago they were despatched 31-21 in Edinburgh, initiating a disastrous run of form that culminated in an embarrassing group exit from the tournament in France.
An experimental side is being fielded at Murrayfield with head coach Declan Kidney balancing the need to examine close calls on selection, give players returning from injury game time and establish momentum.
With France looming home and away after Scotland, defeat could spark another disappointing run which would sap confidence levels heading into the World Cup.
Cullen, who has been named skipper against the Scots, admits the events of 2007 have been discussed.
"Everyone's familiar with the mindset of four years ago when the team went over there and really struggled to put in a decent performance," said the Leinster lock. "Scotland caught us cold a bit and that's something we've talked about this week.
"There are mixed expectations of the next month but everyone's looking forward to it.
"It's a strange situation to be in where you're playing a pre-season game but with lots at stake.
"There's not a huge amount at stake on the outcome of the game, but for the individuals there's a lot at stake.
"It depends on what way you look at it when it comes to judging if performance is more important than results in this sort of match.
"Individuals want to perform well but that's a lot easier to do if the team plays well.
"We have to have realistic expectations starting off, but everyone seems to have an edge in training."
None of Saturday's pack are likely to start the World Cup opener against the USA on September 11, but there are several more established players in the backs.
Among them are full-back Rob Kearney and scrum-half Tomas O'Leary, although with both returning from lengthy injury lay-offs, not too much is expected of either.
O'Leary links up with Jonathan Sexton at half-back in what is likely to be Kidney's preferred combination during the World Cup.
Hooker Jerry Flannery is included on the bench, hopefully signalling the end of his long battle with calf injuries.
The performance of Leinster rookie Fergus McFadden at outside centre will be monitored closely with fitness doubts hanging over Gordon D'Arcy and to a lesser extent Brian O'Driscoll.
Scotland are the first of four international fixtures arranged this month, two more than in 2007 when Ireland entered the World Cup rusty and short of match fitness.
After the double header against France come England and Cullen insists such demanding fixtures are to be welcomed.
"The big difference now compared to 2007 is that there are four internationals," he said.
"It's good that the team has the chance to get into their stride before the World Cup. The game is so much about momentum.
"Maybe more so for a forward than a back, but you want three games under your belt before you feel match fit."
Scotland: C Paterson (Edinburgh); N Walker (Ospreys), J Ansbro (London Irish), G Morrison (Glasgow), S Lamont (Scarlets); R Jackson (Glasgow), R Lawson (Gloucester, capt); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), G Cross (Edinburgh), J Hamilton (Gloucester), R Gray (Glasgow), A Strokosch (Gloucester), R Rennie (Edinburgh), J Beattie (Glasgow).
Replacements: D Hall (Glasgow), A Dickinson (Sale Sharks), A Kellock (Glasgow), D Denton (Edinburgh), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh), N De Luca (Edinburgh), J Cuthbert (Bath).
Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); A Trimble (Ulster), F McFadden (Leinster), P Wallace (Ulster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); J Sexton (Leinster), T O'Leary (Munster); T Court (Ulster), S Cronin (Leinster), T Buckley (Sale), D Ryan (Munster), L Cullen (Leinster, capt), M McCarthy (Connacht), N Ronan (Munster), D Leamy (Munster).
Replacements: J Flannery (Munster), M Horan (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), M O'Driscoll (Munster), K McLaughlin (Leinster), I Boss (Leinster), F Jones (Munster).
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