Eoin Reddan insists pride alone ensures tomorrow's clash with Scotland will be contested as if the RBS 6 Nations crown was at stake.
Ireland's hopes of challenging for the title vanished following Sunday's draw with France and a disheartening midtable finish beckons.
It is a disappointing return for a team that had designs on the Grand Slam and with two fixtures remaining, completed by England at Twickenham next Saturday, the best they can hope for is third.
Winless Scotland, who are engaged in a duel with Italy to avoid the wooden spoon, appear to have more incentive to succeed at Lansdowne Road.
Reddan, however, insists tradition will provide Ireland with all the motivation they need.
"I remember walking up to a Five Nations game with my dad when I was around 10," the Leinster scrum-half said.
"I didn't have a clue where Ireland were in the table that day, I didn't know if they'd been winning or were going for a Grand Slam.
"Instead, I couldn't believe I was going to this match to watch these guys play.
"It was just such a massive occasion in itself. For me and everyone else, that's how it feels.
"You don't need anything else to spur you on, you're pulling on the jersey so you give it everything and the intensity levels will be huge.
"This weekend will be no different and there are no thoughts in our minds that there's nothing at stake.
"We have to be honest and say we're disappointed that we've lost two games. To say anything else would be wrong.
"We set ourselves high standards so we'd like to be winning those games."
Losses to England, Wales and France have left Scotland in an all-too familiar position, but there is a consensus that they have failed to achieve the results their play has deserved.
A more expansive approach has been foiled by their perennial inability to cross the whitewash, despite creating sufficient chances in all three games.
Their recent record against Ireland - two wins out of three meetings - offers hope their five-Test losing streak can be concluded when they visit Lansdowne Road.
"Scotland have been unlucky so far in this Six Nations and they have improved every week," Reddan said.
"They were very good against Wales for a large part of the game but found themselves massively down on the scoreboard, probably due to the sin-binnings.
"They looked very dangerous against France and have some exceptional players.
"They are abrasive at the breakdown and it's a big challenge for us."
Reddan has been restored at scrum-half after a knee injury sustained against France ended Conor Murray's championship.
The 31-year-old's strong cameos off the bench against Wales and Italy led to calls for him to start at the Stade de France, but fate has intervened to give him his chance this weekend.
Unable to fully establish himself as Ireland's first choice number nine since making his debut in 2006, he has devised his own approach to selection.
"At this stage of my career I've learnt that coaches are entitled to their opinion," said Reddan, who will win his 41st cap tomorrow.
"If you get frustrated or bothered by it, it pushes you further away from getting into the team.
"You need to focus on your form, concentrate on what you do well and keep bringing it.
"If you manage to keep your form, it gives them a chance to realise they were wrong.
"That's the only hope you have because if you let your form dip, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."