Sebastien Chabal has raised the stakes for England's confrontation with France by declaring the winner will go on to seize the RBS 6 Nations title.
The rivals will put their unbeaten records on the line when they meet in a seismic showdown at Twickenham on Saturday week.
Both teams enter the match on the back of impressive results, ruthless England looking sensational against Italy and France edging Sunday's thriller against Ireland.
With the scene set for what promises to be the clash of the championship, former Sale forward Chabal predicts the title will effectively be decided in round three.
“When we started the competition, it was to win it,” said Chabal, the Racing Metro back and second row.
“Now I believe the winner of the next round will win the Six Nations. So we will try to do our best and get a result in England.
“We watched England's game against Italy. They played great rugby, they moved the ball and were strong. But Italy didn't play well. For us the first thing is to be stronger with our forwards, because when they go backwards it will be more difficult for them to move the ball around the pitch.”
France coach Marc Lievremont fired the opening salvo in the phoney war as soon as Ireland had been disposed of at Aviva Stadium, adopting a unconvincing line in self-depreciation in the process.
“I'm already feeling something of a headache looking towards the England match because they are looking very sure of themselves,” said Lievremont.
“We need to appreciate our win against Ireland and realise that England are very much ahead of everyone else at the moment.
“They have a very physical team, they're intense and accelerate a lot. It appears that the other five nations are developing at a much lower level.
“We know that it will be complicated and that we must resolve some issues, but we will progress in this aspect.”
Chabal highlighted the frailty of the champions, who have also accounted for Scotland.
“We made too many mistakes against Ireland, we are not full of confidence and sometimes it's quite difficult for us on the pitch,” he said. “We need a good game plan to beat England.”