'Not essential' for Ireland to win any Bok Test - Horgan
There is a genuine sense of foreboding that Ireland will be whitewashed by South Africa in the upcoming series but, according to Shane Horgan, the success of this tour should not be measured in results alone.
Uncertainty, perhaps more than anything else, is what enshrouds Ireland's first foray onto South African soil in 12 years.
The Six Nations ended on a bright note, but the competition's first three weekends linger in the memory. Not one of the four provinces performed particularly well in Europe and, even Connacht's Pro 12 win cannot mitigate that ignominious failing.
Furthermore, as has been the case since the World Cup quarter-final loss to Argentina, Ireland are preparing for an exacting challenge decimated by injury.
As such, it's hardly surprising that few are expecting them to emerge victorious from any of the three Tests, the first of which is on Saturday in Cape Town.
Former Leinster and Ireland winger Horgan played in both defeats to the Springboks in 2004, and is near certain that the current crop will suffer a similar fate, but he does retain a faint optimism.
"It should be," he said of a series win for the hosts. "But it doesn't always work out like that. Ireland are missing players, but there are now huge opportunities for guys who might be carrying a bit more form.
"There are Connacht guys who have come in that have experienced a super season, are very confident and are doing the right things.
"It's not impossible and South Africa aren't as physical a team as we've seen before and not quite as big as years gone by," added Horgan, who will be a Sky Sports analyst for all three games.
Indeed, the relatively callow squad selected by new head coach Allister Coetzee is missing Handre Pollard, Bryan Habana, Schalk Burger and the Du Plessis brothers, Jannie and Bismarck.
"From a coaching perspective, out of the four southern hemisphere teams, we're most suited to playing South Africa," said Horgan.
"They're the most easily deconstructed and Joe (Schmidt)is very good at deconstructing an opposition. It's just about execution.
"I'm not sure how important the results are of a summer tour the year after a World Cup - it's possibly more about who we uncover and what type of rugby we're playing.
"It's not essential we win any game on tour."
Sky Sports will have exclusive live action of all three Irish tests on Sky Sports 1 with coverage starting from 3.30pm and kick off at 4pm. To celebrate, Sky Sports is offering 6 months half price to all new and existing Sky customers