Kiss working on depleted Ulster's 'mindset' for RDS
There was rather more shadow-boxing than normal this week, which was understandable considering that the dreaded trip to Leinster is on the cards.
Ulster's approach seemed to largely entail a twin-pronged strategy which deployed plenty of soundbites about Leinster's seemingly bottomless strength in depth being aired alongside the inescapable fact that Les Kiss's squad don't fare at all well, whether in regulation PRO12 games or with knockout rugby, at the RDS.
And just to add to the bad look about this one, Leinster are expected to be close to full strength for tomorrow, after putting out a rather more diluted team in the St Stephen's Day reverse at Munster.
Ulster appear to be hitting the road south without Rory Best, Iain Henderson and Paddy Jackson, with all three stood down due to the national game management plan.
While Kiss hinted that there could be other players rested, he has a tricky enough task having to manage his players over the next couple of weeks of key Pro12 games before the last two rounds of European pool action arrive. He will also clearly not have prop Wiehahn Herbst on New Year's Eve.
The South African tight-head has a calf problem which means that Rodney Ah You should step in to start with the forward battle absolutely key for Ulster if they are to unleash their backline and in particular the back three which looks likely to start in Dublin.
In that regard, there was at least something apparently upbeat to be said as Ulster bid to add Leinster's scalp to the one they took from an injury-ravaged Connacht last Friday.
Andrew Trimble looks set to return from a foot injury he shipped when playing for Ireland last month in their closing autumn international against Australia.
International Rugby Newsletter
The Ireland winger should be lining out with Tommy Bowe and Charles Piutau in a very threatening looking Ulster back three though he had been expected to play against Connacht only for a late call which saw him side-lined for another week.
Even though Trimble looks on course to play, the side will be skippered by his fellow joint-captain Rob Herring, who comes in for the rested Best - who had been leading the side for the last three games due to Trimble's absence.
Second row Peter Browne also looks likely to be back in the squad with Darren Cave in line to start in midfield with his likely partner being the strong-running Stuart McCloskey
"You have to go there with a mindset that you have to play out the 80 minutes and start well too," said Kiss of the task in hand for Ulster who are currently in fourth with a game in hand and that match, against Zebre, likely to be played in March during the Six Nations.
"Last time we were there we certainly didn't get the start we wanted.
"Look, it is going to be tough but we will go out there and give it a shot," the Australian added.
"We are going to try and win for sure, that is what we want to get out of it."