Can O'Driscoll's Ireland re-light the Paris fire?
With all due respect to fans of Wales, Scotland, Italy and England, there is no doubt about the big game in the Six Nations this weekend.
France v Ireland shapes up as one of the, if not THE, pivotal fixture in deciding who will go on to win this year's title.
Having said last week I believe this year's champions will be whoever emerges victorious on Saturday in the Stade de France, I see no reason to change my mind on the evidence of the opening weekend.
Despite a relatively narrow nine-point winning margin in Edinburgh, the French delivered a dominant performance of impressive power and control at Murrayfield.
They also gave every impression of having their heads screwed on right, which is not always the case on their travels.
If Ireland's laborious win over Italy hardly suggested a team at the height of their powers, I wouldn't read too much into the champions' second-half performance.
They might live to regret not pushing on and scoring more tries if the title comes down to points difference on the final day, but that sort of ruthless efficiency to put a team to the sword does not come easily in the first game of a championship.
Having got that opener out of their system, there will be no lack of Irish motivation or concentration for Saturday's little set-to.
In many ways this will be a truer test of their new status as European flag-bearers than
anything they faced en route to the Grand Slam, or in the autumn against the southern hemisphere super-powers in Dublin.
Victory in Paris, where they have won precisely once in the last 38 years, would not only make them favourites to retain their Six Nations crown but prove they can win in the toughest arenas when the stakes are at their highest.
Ireland have not won in Paris since Brian O'Driscoll's hat-trick in 2000 inspired a first win since 1972
That said, the fixture hasn't been a pleasant experience for the visitors since 19 March 2000, the day a 21-year-old Brian O'Driscoll memorably announced himself to the wider sporting world with a stunning hat-trick of tries.
"If O'Driscoll hadn't scored on that day, his performance was still the best I had ever seen," recalled former Ireland captain Keith Wood, who led the side that day. "His presence offered hope for the rest of the team."
If that 'where there's BOD, there's hope' sentiment still rings true, even the great man has not been able to conjur up another Parisian party for the green hordes since.
Ireland have conceded 19 tries and an average of 37 points on their last four
Six Nations visits, including a 44-5 shellacking in 2002.
But Wood reckons there is a formula to beating the French. "You just need to have the confidence to stay in the game. If you are in the game at half-time, you have a very good chance," he reasons.
Easier said than done. In those four games since 2000, Ireland have trailed 28-5, 11-3, 29-3 and 19-6 at the interval. Then again, they were losing 19-7 midway through the second half in 2000 before O'Driscoll inspired one of the great Six Nations results.
So how do the Irish go about changing recent historical precedent?
Do they try to keep things tight and trust in Ronan O'Gara's right peg to kick them into the right areas, frustrating the French with a territorial game?
Or do they put more width on their game in the hope of running the hosts ragged, as they did in a crazy comeback from 43-3 down in 2006, when O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy ran riot, the Irish scored four converted tries and France were out on their feet by the end, despite winning the game 43-31?
Wing Vincent Clerc, who scored a first-half hat-trick of tries in the 2008 fixture, is back in the France starting line-up
The inclusion of O'Gara, who hasn't always had the happiest of times in Paris, ahead of the fit-again Johnny Sexton may suggest an inclination towards the first option.
But France's scrum - if the evidence of Murrayfield is anything to go by - is a potent weapon and Irish props Cian Healy and John Hayes may struggle to maintain a stable platform at the set-piece for scrum-half Tomas O'Leary and O'Gara to work off.
Expect plenty of pick-and-drives from the Ireland back row around the fringes and
O'Leary to act as a ninth forward, running any scrappy ball rather than risking the French back-row getting to O'Gara too quickly.
Ireland will also be wary of moving the ball wide too early with the French blitz defence, where Yannick Jauzion and the giant Mathieu Bastareaud will be waiting to pounce in the midfield channels.
Variety will be key for the Irish. O'Gara is likely to try a few chips over the onrushing defence for O'Driscoll and pacey wings Tommy Bowe and Keith Earls to chase.
As Wood notes: "Ireland have the ability to score and the fitness to still be going at the end. They also have the experience of winning big games and a strong leadership group which means they can deliver on that sort of stage."
Will it be enough? Two years ago the Irish found themselves 26-6 behind in Paris and launched another recovery that ended five points short.
But having tipped France for the title, I'll go for a similar winning margin to the hosts in another tight affair. Plus victories for Wales in Cardiff and England in Rome.
Anyone care to disagree?