It is a style that should be recognisable to anybody living north of Hadrian's Wall: a team designed to play the traditional Scottish way with a rampant back row surging into opposition territory and hard, straight-running backs ready to crash their way through to the try line. With plenty of athletic power and arguably the best No 8 in world rugby in Sergio Parisse calling the shots, what could possibly go wrong?
In reality, quite a lot. The entire Italian campaign hinges on their first two games. They host France in the first and travel to Murrayfield for their second. A good performance in the opener – maybe even a win, and yes, they have beaten France in the Six Nations before – and victory in the second against the team they fear least, and they are all set up for a robust attack on Wales and Ireland in their remaining home games.
From an Italian perspective, this is the rotation of matches where they feel they can demonstrate that they belong in the elite club of the RBS 6 Nations Championship. Not only do they have three home games but one of their away games is against Scotland – the only team they have beaten away in 13 seasons of the tournament – so the only match that holds any sense of trepidation is the visit to Twickeham.
Not that Brunel is underestimating the scale of the task. People are starting to wonder when, and even if, Italy's breakthrough is going to come and with some beginning to get impatient, he knows that glimpses of quality are no longer enough.
"Here and there, it has been possible to rival the big teams, but not over the whole match," was his analysis of why they haven't yet made the breakthrough. "Part of our game plan for the [Six Nations] tournament is to be able to have the same performance for the whole match. For the Six Nations the difficulty has been that we need to have five matches at the same level, continuity is the issue."
He is right, consistency always has been the issue and there are not many signs that the man who helped Bernard Laporte guide France to two Rugby World Cup semi-finals in 2003 and 2007 has the magic wand to cure the problem until the production line starts churning out more quality players.
Before Brunel can be certain about what he is getting, he needs to see his players performing consistently at club level as well, and there lies his biggest headache. While Treviso can pull out the occasional outstanding result – beating the Ospreys in the final round of Heineken Cup pool games, for example – they have never managed to produce enough of a run to threaten knockout rugby in Europe or the league.
The second Italian pro team has contributed next to nothing, both in its former Aironi incarnation and now it has been moved and reborn as the Zebre, but until these sides start to get consistent performances out of their players, the kind that Parisse, their captain, takes for granted in himself, they will struggle.
No wonder, then, that the official Six Nations launch a few days ago was treated to an impassioned plea from Brunel for Italy to retain their two automatic places in the Heineken Cup.
"Italian rugby is developing and we need it to have an impact on Italy in terms of players and the public," he said. "We talk about market and the potential market for rugby is in Italy, so it would be a very bad idea if they did cut the number of teams – for rugby in general."
A lot of this may sound familiar. Replace Italy with Scotland and almost all of that is equally applicable – except that there is no Parisse icon in the Scottish set-up – though the brutal arithmetic of commerce and business is always going to see a country of 60 million as a better bet than one with a population a tenth of that.
Which brings Italy's season down to a sense of momentum; they were decent against the All Blacks in November, unlucky against Australia, and beat Tonga, which is more than Scotland managed.
Parisse is the key, with Robert Barbieri and probably Alessandro Zanni, a pair of 17-stone bruisers, alongside him to provide the barnstorming muscle in the back row. If they are allowed to get going and build their confidence, this could be a season to remember. If they are stopped in their tracks, it could be another to forget.