Last year saw Scotland finish higher than Ireland in the Six Nations final table for the first time in the tournament's history, giving this weekend's meeting in Dublin some fiercer context than usual.
In 2013, Scott Johnson's side were good enough to hold out for a 12-8 win over their Celtic rivals at Murrayfield, but Ireland have since undergone some radical change.
Joe Schmidt's first Six Nations test as Ireland coach isn't as difficult as the competition may have thrown at him, but the visit of the Scots this weekend will nonetheless prove a potentially tight contest for the New Zealander to earn his tournament stripes.
Date: Sunday, February 2
Time: 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Viewing Info: BBC One (UK)
Stream: BBC Sport website
Schmidt has launched a few unexpected moves with his selection in time for Sunday's examination, with Andrew Trimble and Luke Marshall starting on the wing and at inside centre, respectively.
Marshall continues to gain prominence in the international setup, with Leinster's Gordon D'Arcy dropping out of the squad entirely as a result.
There aren't too many shocks elsewhere, but Dave Kearney manages to get ahead of his fellow speedsters on the other wing, while Chris Henry fills in at flanker for the injured Sean O'Brien.
For Johnson, there's also a surprise or two. Nick De Luca fails to get his place in the squad, which sees Alex Dunbar claim the No. 13 jersey, while Sean Maitland moves to the wing in order to accommodate the now fit-again Stuart Hogg.
In the pack, Tim Swinson beats the likes of Grant Gilchrist and Richie Gray to place in the starting team at lock. The other impacting change comes with Ryan Wilson replacing an ill Johnnie Beattie, who starts on the bench.
Key Players to Watch
Ireland: Peter O'Mahony
Enjoying a very impressive season with Munster for the most part, Peter O'Mahony's involvement with the national team is only bound to increase, having bumped up considerably in the last two years already.
The flanker is regarded as a leader figure at Thomond Park, and that mindset has translated well to the national team ranks, where it will once again be needed on Sunday.
Although the side are showing great strides in terms of attacking quality under Johnson, one of Scotland's biggest strengths remains their ability to duel at the breakdown.
Kelly Brown and Ryan Wilson will be the men whom O'Mahony is most likely to face in this particular tussle, and if the Irish are to retain a good amount of possession, it will be vital that the absence of O'Brien is eased by the Munster man's work on the ground game.
Scotland: Duncan Weir
Scotland have a number of stars spinning among their ranks, but one position where they've lacked real quality in recent years is at fly-half.
This weekend will see Duncan Weir continue in the starting No. 10 role, but the Glasgow Warriors playmaker was shown to be wanting at times during the November internationals.
The Rugby Forum's Mike Blair agrees that Weir has a mound of responsibility on his shoulders heading into this year's tournament:
Scotland need Weir ticking in Dublin: Duncan Weir has a key role to play for Scotland, writes Mike Blair, but ... http://t.co/iJGWwSKFEQ— The Rugby Forum (@therugbyforum) January 31, 2014
The likes of Australia and South Africa dealt with Weir's threat with a very physical approach, a number of big hits hurting his momentum in both games against the Southern Hemisphere giants, and Ireland aren't likely to be much more accommodating.
With Johnny Sexton lined up opposite, Schmidt will be able to rely on fluid play both through the hands and from the boot in his own yard, but it's vital that Weir gives the Aviva Stadium visitors a similar sense of security if Scotland are to emerge with points in tow.