O'Mahony sounds note of caution
Peter O'Mahony has warned Ireland that superstardom is no precursor to RBS 6 Nations success.
Munster's homespun flanker believes Ireland cannot command victories purely on the strength of their team sheet.
Ireland slumped to a fifth-place finish in last year's Six Nations, a paltry return that spelled the end of Declan Kidney's coaching reign.
Labelling last season "gut-wrenching", O'Mahony warned Ireland not to expect the presence of stalwarts like captain Paul O'Connell and centre Brian O'Driscoll simply to carry them through.
The 24-year-old believes Ireland have the strength and experience to challenge for the Six Nations title, but must now prove it, starting by seeing off Scotland in Dublin on Sunday.
"You have to earn everything in this competition: you could have 15 world-beaters in your team and it doesn't give you the right to win any game, you have to go out and win it yourself," said O'Mahony.
"We didn't do that last year, we played poorly and we weren't playing good rugby.
"We could have won some of those games, they were very close and one or two mistakes here or there cost us games.
"That's not where we want to be, we want to be playing good rugby, impressing everyone and enjoying our rugby as well, and that's not what we were doing last year.
"As I said you have to go out and earn these wins.
"Just because you have good players in your team, it doesn't stand for anything."
O'Mahony believes Ireland must still atone for last season's dismal Six Nations, despite the new era under head coach Joe Schmidt.
"Any Six Nations game or any match you lose in an Irish jersey is a tough pill to take, it hangs over you for three or four days," he said.
"Losing in an Ireland jersey is gut-wrenching, you want to do well for the side, your family and everyone who comes to the stadium.
"And you feel like you've let everyone down when you lose, so there's a lot of pressure to put yourself through, and rightly so.
"It was a tough few weeks, it was extremely disappointing and tough to go through.
"We'll be looking forward to an opportunity to put that right.
"This Ireland team should be competing for Grand Slams and championships, and our aspiration is certainly to win this competition."
Scotland will be desperate to turn the tight exchanges into a spoiling contest in Dublin on Sunday.
O'Mahony admitted Ireland must be water-tight in terms of discipline, especially when trying to steal turnovers and releasing players in the tackle.
"Anything not done properly will be picked up properly," he said.
"We were very disciplined in November and happy with that, and hopefully he'll have that picture in his head already so that's something we won't want to change.
"We're trying to be as disciplined as possible.
"There's certainly a buzz about he place, everyone's getting excited for this, including us.
"We're really looking forward to it."