Solheim Cup far from one-sided
It is a battle not so much for the trophy but for relevance, claim some observers ahead of the biennial Solheim Cup clash between the women golfers of Europe and the United States.
The doomsayers fear a loss of public interest if the US march to a fourth successive victory at Killeen Castle in County Meath this weekend.
One leading Golf Channel analyst points to an aggregate Euro deficit of 11 points over the last three matches as evidence that the match has become too one-sided.
Certainly another thumping win for the US would do the Solheim Cup no favours, but it is far too soon to be pressing panic buttons over the future of the event, even though pitching the US against Asia might currently appear a more relevant contest.
Rubbishing this event ignores the cyclical nature of sport and fails to take account of the way underdogs can prosper in team golf when matches are played over 18 holes.
Melissa Reid and Michelle Wie are two of the young stars on show in Ireland; Photos - Getty
Less than a fortnight ago, the amateur men of Great Britain and Ireland overcame what was regarded as one of the strongest American Walker Cup sides assembled, to defend the famous old trophy.
Now it is the turn of Europe's professional women to try to do something similar here in Ireland. They will be attempting this with world number two Suzann Pettersen as their only representative in the world's top 20.
The US, meanwhile, boast top-tenners Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome and Stacy Lewis, as well as daunting talents like Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie.
No wonder the visitors are odds-on favourites.
Yet a closer examination of the make-up of the two teams gives cause for European optimism that is not reflected in the bookmakers' assessments.
Alison Nicholas's team possess a mix of personality and game that might just seem them thrive, and relish the opportunity of upsetting the form book.
For years it was Annika Sorenstam who led the way for European women's golf and this could be the week when we see her long term successor emerge.
Like the retired Sorenstam, Caroline Hedwall is Swedish. The 22-year-old is also a phenomenal talent capable of inspiring Europe in her very first Solheim Cup.
Already a three-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, Hedwall is a fearless putter and there is no more valuable commodity in matchplay. No European will be disappointed to be paired with her.
Melissa Reid is a feisty character who has hit form at just the right moment, celebrating victory in Spain only last Sunday. The 24-year-old from Derbyshire topped the LET qualifying table and is relishing the prospect of her Solheim debut.
"Rookies like Mel Reid, who is one of the most exciting prospects in world golf right now, will be complimented and guided by sage old heads like Laura Davies and Catriona Matthew," says Sorenstam, who is one of Nicholas' vice-captains.
Davies will need to emerge from a poor season as she bids for the single point that would make her the highest points-scorer in the history of the Solheim Cup. This will be her record 12th appearance but she has missed the cut in four of her last five LPGA events.
Matthew is the Bernhard Langer of the women's game with her unflappable demeanour and dependable game. The Scot has been beaten only once in six singles matches.
By contrast, Pettersen has yet to win a singles, but Sorenstam believes she is vital to the European cause, calling her "without doubt our most important player".
The former world number one went on: "She should excel at Killeen, where she won the Irish Open. That triumph was a massive confidence boost to us all."
Extending that potent blend of youth and experience, Sophie Gustafson, 37, has also won at Killeen Castle while Anna Nordqvist, 24, plays with such accuracy she will be an asset in all formats.
Meanwhile, US captain Rosie Jones has a number of potential worries.
One will be whether world number 102 Ryann O'Toole can justify her place in the team. The 24-year-old rookie has missed three cuts in a row since gaining her controversial wildcard selection.
Veteran Juli Inkster, who is doubling up as a vice-captain, is short of form; the highly rated Kerr has only won one of her five singles matches to date and Christina Kim failed to make a cut in any of the four majors this year.
Then there is the enigmatic Wie and her belly putter that blows hot and cold. It is hard to predict how the 21-year-old will fare, but the evidence of two years ago suggests the Solheim might be the arena in which she plays at her best.
The Irish crowds and weather offer more dimensions that may prove significant. It doesn't feel as though interest in the Solheim Cup is in terminal decline just yet.