While Scotland’s group includes three teams ranked in the world’s top five, in Pool C no side is currently higher than Fiji’s seventh. Australia are ninth, Wales 10th, Georgia 11th and Portugal 16th. 

That might look like mediocrity in-depth, but the incentive for each of the sides is clear: make even a modest improvement on their current form and they will have an excellent chance of reaching the last eight - or, in the case of Portugal, of causing a historic, one-off upset at least.

As their ranking suggests, Fiji are the team who go into the tournament in the best shape, and their morale is on a high after their historic victory over England at Twickenham two weeks ago. Their traditional preference for improvisation over structure long made them vulnerable to less gifted but more disciplined opponents, but head coach Simon Raiwalui has redressed that imbalance. The fact that they now have a team, the Drua, in Super Rugby has also helped immensely by exposing them to more regular top-class competition below Test level. 

So can they justify their ranking and win the group to progress to a last-eight meeting with the Pool D runners-up? They certainly showed against England that they can last the pace and close out tight matches in a way that was once not the case, but the question now is over their ability to do that consistently over the course of four games. That task will be all the harder because of the loss earlier this week of first-choice stand-off Caleb Muntz, who injured a knee in training.

In part because of that doubt over Fijian consistency, Australia are odds-on favourites to win the pool. Now coached by everyone’s favourite grumpy uncle Eddie Jones, the Wallabies come into the competition on a dismal run of form, having lost their last five games. 

Jones has fostered an us-against-them mentality in the squad, who, although lacking the quality of their predecessors who were twice crowned world champions in the 1990s, retain a dogged determination that will keep them in close contests. Their opening game against the Georgians could work out ideally for them: they will be stretched, all right, but a victory, no matter how narrow, will set them up nicely for the rest of the pool.

As for Georgia themselves, anyone who saw their 33-6 defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield two weeks ago will be aware of their very evident strengths and weaknesses. The first half, which ended with them 6-0 ahead, showcased their traditional set-piece strengths and robust physicality. The second, in which they conceded five tries, raised major questions over their ability to last the pace.

If they are to pull off a win or two and get anywhere close to qualification for the quarter-finals, Georgia will need to get on top up front and dictate the tempo. You can see them doing that against the Portuguese, and they will fancy their chances against the Welsh, who they beat by a point last year in Cardiff, but their lack of a Plan B is likely to be exposed over the course of the pool campaign.

Wales are not going into the tournament in any great shape. In their warm-up matches they beat England at home then lost to them away, before ending with a 52-16 defeat by South Africa in Cardiff. They have lost Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric to retirement and Ken Owens to injury, and of the squad selected by head coach Warren Gatland, nearly half are at their first World Cup.

There is still experience aplenty, however, in the shape of players such as Dan Biggar and Taulupe Faletau, and if they can get off to a winning start against Fiji their confidence will soar.

Portugal, meanwhile, will surely have to content themselves with damaging the qualification hopes of one or more of their four group rivals rather than contending for a last-eight place themselves. This is just their second appearance at the World Cup, and they will have to excel themselves to do better than 2007, when they lost all of their games.

Who to watch

Edinburgh No 8 Bill Mata is just one of many Fijians who combine dynamic running with the most delicate of touches in the offload, while his team-mate Semi Radradra is more an exponent of the brutal, barnstorming run.

Wales winger Louis Rees-Zammit is a joy to watch when at his exhilarating best, and Wallabies scrum-half Nic White is adept at winding up opponents and officials alike, especially when his magnificent comedy moustache is in full bloom.

Match of the pool

Wales v Fiji, Sunday 8pm in Bordeaux. Really high stakes here: whoever wins will feel they are halfway to qualifying for the last eight, even if they lose to Australia in their next game.