Ireland captain Rory Best believes tonight's clash with Wales will offer a true measure of where his team are in their development.
Having come into the Six Nations on a high as a result of their win over New Zealand in November, Joe Schmidt's side are aiming to take the championship race to a showdown against England at the Aviva Stadium by securing victory at the Millennium Stadium.
The opening day loss to Scotland put Ireland on the back foot, but their wins over Italy and France have kept them in contention. In second place coming into the penultimate round, Best's men must beat Wales to remain in the hunt, and the Ulster man believes they will learn a lot about themselves in the process.
"We will find out a lot," he said. "To come to a place like this and perform in an intense atmosphere will be a big statement of where we are and of where the squad is because it is going to take a 23-man effort.
"The last quarter of the game, you would imagine, is going to be finely balanced and it is going to take the bench coming on and fitting in seamlessly. . . it is going to be a mark of where this Irish squad is.
"Whatever about November and the French game, bar the Chicago game, they were all at home. If you look at results historically, it is perceived to be easier to play at home. This will be a big statement of where we are as a squad and how mentally tough we are.
"We want to be involved in the last weekend because we have a group of players, and a coaching staff, who want to win things and who set our standards quite high.
"So from that side of things, it is important but we know that it will only happen if we perform tomorrow, and that is all we will be focusing on."
Ireland have opted to play with the roof closed at the Millennium Stadium.
Comment & Analysis
This may be our men's first Six Nations game on a Friday night, but Friday nights have been synonymous with Irish women's rugby for years and are something I have always loved.
Ireland will need more than clear eyes and full hearts under these Friday night lights. With the roof closed at the Millennium Stadium, Wales' backs are against the walls and the locals are demanding a performance.