Italy coach John Kirwan has upped the tempo ahead of Saturday's winner-takes-all clash with Wales as the inevitable psychological games got underway.
Even before Tuesday's Pool D game against Canada, the talk was of the much-anticipated showdown with Wales in Canberra this weekend. Either side can qualify for the quarter-finals, behind expected Pool winners New Zealand, regardless of today's result.
And as the predictable scramble to claim the underdog tag broke out, Kirwan laughed off suggestions that his rapidly improving side could be billed as favourites.
That notion was muted by Steve Hansen who was forced to agree with the assessment of Tonga coach Jim Love that his side are not as physical as the Italians given their shaky performance at the weekend.
But it failed to cut any ice with Kirwan who was keeping his usual cool ahead of the most important game in Italian rugby history.
"Suggesting that we are the favourites against Wales just because of that comment is ridiculous, totally ridiculous," said Kirwan. "What Wales did against Tonga was secured a play-off against us by winning.
"There is bound to be a war of words because that will probably be the most important test match Italy has ever faced, but there's no way we are favourites."
One factor that will count against Italy, despite vastly contrasting performances against Tonga, is their tight schedule. Italy will have just four days to prepare for Wales, who have two more, following what is expected to be a bruising encounter with Canada today.
"I have no complaints about this game but the fact that we have so little time to recover and prepare for the next is a joke," said Kirwan.
"We are getting better but we are not good enough to have the luxury of resting any players, we can't hold anything back."
Hansen, in contrast, made eight changes to his side against Tonga but admitted that his players were caught with one eye on the game against Italy.
"We will not be making the same mistake," vowed Kirwan. "If we want to improve as a nation then we must have the mental resilience for the Canada game, which is the biggest of the World Cup for us, and put Wales out of our thoughts.
"I have told the players that they must focus on that as if they win they will be the first Italian side to win two games at a World Cup.
"Anyone who looks too far ahead in this tournament is going to get beaten, regardless of form."
Italy have made just one change to the side that beat Tonga 34-12 with Mirco Bergamasco replacing Nicola Mazzucato on the right wing while Canada, yet to win a game in Australia, have opted to use veteran skipper Al Charron's experience in the second-row with Jamie Cudmore taking the flank amid a string of changes.
Italy: G Canale; M Bergamasco, C Stoica, M Dalan, D Dalan; R Wakarua, A
Troncon (capt); A Lo Cicero, F Ongaro, M Castrogiovanni, S Dellape, M
Bortolami, A de Rossi, S Parisse, A Perisco. Replacements: C Festuccia, S
Perugini, C Cecchinato, S Palmer, M Mazzantini, F Mazzariol, A Masi.
Canada: Q Fyffe; W Stanley, J Cannon, M di Girolamo, D Lougheed; J Barker, M
Williams; R Snow, M Lawson, J Thiel, C Yukes, A Charron (capt), J Cudmore, R
Banks, J Douglas. Replacements: A Abrams, K Tzachuk, J Reid, J Jackson, S
Fauth, B Ross, M King.