Who will win latest Six Nations passion play?
"The players are not computers to be programmed. Passion and emotion is still hugely important. It always will be and should be. If it goes out of the game, there is no joy in it. That is what it is all about."
Any ideas as to who uttered those words on the eve of this year's RBS Six Nations Championship?
Yep, you guessed it, that old merchant of mirth himself, synonymous with all things joyful in rugby matters, one Martin Osborne Johnson.
As the man in charge of an England team whose coaches acknowledged they were overly "prescriptive" during a dismal autumn, these are surely encouraging words for supporters of a red rose persuasion.
But before images come to mind of England players pumped up on John Bull, gambolling around Twickenham laying waste to their Six Nations rivals, it should be noted Johnson was not specifically referring to his team alone.
He was answering a general question which served as a timely reminder why we love the Six Nations.
Wales captain Ryan Jones takes his side to Twickenham to face Steve Borthwick's England in their opening game
Amid all the video analysis, fitness regimes, defensive systems and tactical play-books, it was reassuring to hear that this more visceral stuff still matters in Test rugby, especially in a tournament - described by France coach Marc Lievremont as "la plus belle competition du monde" (the most beautiful in the world) - in which patriotic fervour and historic rivalry are so woven into its fabric and enduring drama.
Johnson was not alone in his view. Other coaches were similarly effusive when I broached the subject with them at last week's Six Nations launch in London.
Nick Mallett, the engaging and articulate coach of Wooden Spoon favourites Italy, noted how his players' evident passion, even in the face of considerable odds, had persuaded 80,000 people to come and support them when the All Blacks came to Milan's San Siro stadium in November.
"It was against all precedents, extraordinary and unique," he recalled. "Normally Italians will only support winning teams and we'd been on a losing streak (a run of 13 straight defeats ended when they beat Samoa in their final autumn Test).
"But the public had seen something on the pitch that gave them a lot of pride. They realised we were boxing outside our division and how hard we were trying.
"Every team has to find an identity so that it plays for something greater than itself. A team that understands that performs better."
Andy Robinson, the new boy on the Six Nations coaching block this year even if he had two previous campaigns in charge of England, is perhaps most pertinent on the subject in light of his past and present employers.
"I think national pride and passion is very important," said the patriotic Englishman now in charge of their oldest enemies. "It is a warrior sport, and you are searching for the toughest competitors who will put their bodies on the line. We saw that against Australia in November and how winning inspired the nation."
Robinson was less forthcoming on how he might feel about putting one over the country for whom he won eight caps and later formed part of a World Cup-winning coaching team before an unsuccessful two-year spell in the top job ended in late 2006.
But Scotland v England on 13 March at Murrayfield is just one of the intriguing sub-plots to this year's championship, which bursts forth again in Dublin, London and Edinburgh this weekend.
So who will have prevailed when France and England bring this year's proceedings to a close at approximately 10.30pm Parisian time on 20 March?
Johnson reckons "anyone saying who is going to win the title would be a pretty brave guy".
Well, I'm not making any claims on the bravery front, but I'll give it a go anyway.
You could make a case - and please do - for any one of Ireland, Wales, France or England winning the title.
Indignant Scots may ask 'did you not see us beat Australia in November?' To which the flippant answer would be 'yes, and it was marvellous, but if Mat Giteau had kicked that conversion, it would have been the latest in a long line of brave Scottish defeats'.
Sean Lamont scores a try as Scotland enjoy a notable 20-16 win over France 2006
But I prefer to look at other evidence. Scotland have won just one match in each of the last three Six Nations and scored 14 tries in that time, less than one a game.
The fixture list has parallels with 2006, when Frank Hadden launched his tenure by beating France at home and Scotland won three games in a season (England also at home, Italy away) for the only time in Six Nations history, equalling their best finish of third.
Despite Robinson's bullish prognosis that "we are in control of our destiny... we have got five games that I believe we have the ability to win", emulating Hadden's feat and finishing third - one place better than he managed in his two Six Nations campaigns with England - would be a superb achievement.
My own tip for the title are France, also the bookies' favourites but a very dangerous team to back. It wouldn't surprise me to see them lose at Murrayfield in their opener on Sunday.
But in the tight games that will unfold among the 'big four', France are at home in two of their three, and I think this year's champions will be whoever prevails in Paris a week on Saturday when the French host Ireland.
If the Irish, assuming they beat Italy in the tournament opener, can win in Paris for the first time since Brian O'Driscoll's stunning hat-trick of tries 10 years ago, they will be well on the way to defending their crown.
They may even become the first team in the Six Nations period to achieve back-to-back Grand Slams, and only the sixth in the history of the championship.
For England and Wales, it is impossible to overstate the importance of Saturday's encounter at Twickenham. To the victor goes crucial momentum, the prospect of making it two out of two the following week (England in Rome, Wales at home to Scotland) and a real crack at the title. To the vanquished, recovery is possible, but mid-table or worse beckons.
Another factor, harder to gauge, is the lingering effect of last summer's exhilarating Lions tour of South Africa. Is it asking too much of British and Irish players to peak again so soon?
In the three seasons that have followed Lions tours in the professional era, France have won the title (1998, 2002, 2006) each time. A mere statistical coincidence? Or a certain logic to it?
Wales, particularly, and England were both hit by injuries to their Lions contingent in the autumn and should be stronger for their return in most cases. Ireland's Lions have avoided injuries and been well managed by the provinces, but will they remain physically and mentally fresh over the next six weeks?
"It is a challenge," conceded Johnson, a three-time Lions tourist, "especially after the high quality of the games you have had to play. It is going to affect the teams and you have to deal with it. You need to be mentally strong. If you think you are tired, you are tired."
And that, presumably, is when the passion, pride and patriotism takes over. Bring it on.