Ireland will travel to New Zealand with high hopes of redeeming themselves after their worst ever performance in a World Cup four years ago, in what should be a swansong for many of their senior players.
Having not made it out of the pool stage in France in 2007 they can dream realistically of reaching the semifinals for the first time given their charitable draw - though they will have to discover a consistency that has been lacking since their 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam.
Their pool this time round does not hold the same dangers they fell victim to last time when they had hosts France and a superb Argentina, for while Italy have improved under Nick Mallett the Irish should have enough ammunition to see them off.
A runners-up spot behind Australia would probably see them play world champions South Africa in the last eight and a top-form Ireland would have a strong chance of beating them.
Whilst there is no doubt that this squad is a more unified group under Declan Kidney, who replaced Eddie O'Sullivan after the 2007 debacle, they have an infuriating habit, if you are an Irish supporter, of going to sleep in matches.
Turnovers put the defence under pressure and this has been evident in their trio of warm-up matches which have resulted in two defeats against France and one against Scotland.
It is a habit that Kidney wants ironed out by the time they kick-off their campaign against the United States - ironically now coached by O'Sullivan - on September 11.
"Our defence has had a lot of practice over the last two weeks. Last week (against Scotland) and in the first half this week we put our defence under pressure," said the 51-year-old after the France match.
"In the first half we did a bit of damage to ourselves because we probably didn't hang on to the ball too well," he added.
O'Sullivan for his part believes that Ireland's far more intensive warm-up for this World Cup in comparison to his strategy last time round can pay-off given the talent that is at Kidney's disposal.
"Ireland have a lot of talent, they are in the top six in the world - they have been up to number four this year," he told AFP.
"They were a bit fractured in the Six Nations before they gelled against England and then they really showed what they could do. If Ireland come into the tournament on all cylinders then it won't just be us worrying," said O'Sullivan.
Ireland firing on all cylinders will be a formidable sight with the battle-hardened midfield partnership of Leinster clubmates Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy, while Kidney has a coach's dream selection quandary of two top class flyhalves, the veteran Ronan O'Gara and the younger Jonathan Sexton.
Up front, the Munster legends Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan have shown that age is taking its toll but their evergreen clubmate David Wallace is as strong as ever on the flank and they have in Jamie Heaslip one of the most formidable No.8's in the world.
Ireland have all the ingredients this time to write a more pleasant chapter in their World Cup history - provided they keep their eye on the ball.
A qualified mathematics teacher who will hope his sums add up in New Zealand. The 51-year-old quietly spoken Irishman has a record to die for in the northern hemisphere with two European Cup wins as Munster coach - plus two other final appearances - and delivered the holy grail of the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2009 in only his second season in charge of the national side and as a result garnered the IRB coach of the year award. Results since then have been patchy as have been the performances but as he has shown in the past he is capable of summoning great displays out of his sides when it matters.
Remarkably it is now 12 years that he has been the player Ireland has looked to after looking a star in the making even as a replacement in the 1999 World Cup squad. Now the 32-year-old centre has a final chance of securing the one major trophy to have eluded him. He may lack the speed of old and injuries are never far away but his tackling is first rate, his understanding with centre partner Gordon D'Arcy telepathic and his vision and eye for a break peerless. Most players wouldn't mind retiring with two European Cups, a Six Nations Grand Slam, over 100 caps and the try scoring record for the Five/Six Nations but O'Driscoll's appetite will only be sated with a World Cup.
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