But anyone reading anything into the outcome of Scotland's only previous meeting with Italy four years ago would be gravely mistaken.
Scotland scored 104 unanswered points, a record defeat for Italy, making it all the more remarkable that the Italians are favourites today.
The reason is that while a couple of the Scots side from that day are involved in World Cup plans, there are no survivors of that day in the Italian side that shocked Wales 32-16 at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on the opening-day double-header.
As league looks to gain credibility in Italy, opening up a huge market, they have recruited heavily from Australia's National Rugby League, with the Minnichiello brothers, Anthony and Mark, bringing star quality.
On Tuesday Scotland beat Tonga, the favourites in Pool C, from which only the winners qualify for the quarter-finals, but they know a comparable performance will not be sufficient this afternoon.
Courage and team spirit earned them a 26-24 win as they grabbed chances while the South Sea Islanders were frustrated by video replays and missed kicks.
The Scots also benefited hugely from the support of the locals in the compact Derwent Park ground in Workington, based there as they have been.
The message from Steve McCormack, Scotland's head coach, is that they will look to feed off that again to up their game. "We know we're going to have to improve but hopefully we'll get the same support and the same sort of atmosphere and it's going to be one hell of a game," he said.
The incentive for the Scots could not be greater.
They could conceivably still earn a quarter-final with New Zealand if they lose, but win today and they know that glamour tie will be theirs.