A combination of ferocious local pride and spartan stadiums means that no teams relish a visit to l'Île de Beauté. Lens' match at Bastia in Ligue 2 last season descended into a brawl that saw three players sent off and Bastia banned from playing at home for a month, while Alain Mboma, coach of third-tier Paris FC, claimed to have been physically assaulted by officials from Gazelec Ajaccio earlier this year.
AC Ajaccio began the current Ligue 1 campaign with a two-point deduction after a linesman was kicked by a club official following a game with Lyon in May, and it was at their Stade François-Coty home on Sunday night that Paris Saint-Germain became the latest visitors from the mainland to come unstuck.
A 0-0 draw left PSG without a win in two matches and the tension was too much for both Ezequiel Lavezzi, red-carded for a dangerous lunge at an opponent, and coach Carlo Ancelotti, who was sent to the stands after kicking a water bottle onto the pitch in frustration. A 10-minute delay caused by a sudden floodlight failure during injury time did not help the visitors' mood either.
Ancelotti complained that Ajaccio had played with "lots of aggression", but the statistics showed that this was not a case of a plucky underdog clinging on for a barely deserved point. Ajaccio enjoyed significantly more possession (62 per cent to 38 per cent) and won more corners (seven to four) than their opponents, while the closest either side came to a goal was a shot from the hosts' Brazilian striker Eduardo that hit the post.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had rescued Paris on the season's opening day, scoring twice to salvage a 2-2 draw at home to Lorient, but he missed Sunday's game due to injury. In his absence, Ancelotti resorted to the strikerless 4-3-3 system that he used on occasion last season, but there was a conspicuous lack of penetration to PSG's play.
With some 150 million euros spent on new players this summer, the widespread expectation is that PSG will canter to the title, so time is not on Ancelotti's side. His predecessor, Antoine Kombouaré, was sacked last season despite leading his team into the winter break in first place and both club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Leonardo had descended to pitch level with looks of consternation upon their faces by the end of Sunday's game.
"Everyone thinks we'll be champions, but the truth is on the pitch," warned midfielder Blaise Matuidi. "They'll be waiting for us everywhere. Every team will give 100 or 120 per cent against us."
The draw at Ajaccio left PSG four points below early pace-setters Lyon, Marseille, Bastia and Bordeaux, who visit Parc des Princes at the weekend in search of what would be a ninth consecutive Ligue 1 win. Thiago Silva's busy summer with Brazil means that he is still awaiting his debut following his 42m euro move from Milan and Thiago Motta is yet to feature this season due to a thigh problem, while Ibrahimovic's right foot injury has put his participation against Bordeaux in doubt.
Given the huge amount of money they have spent, there is little sympathy for PSG's struggles in France, but the fact that Ligue 1 is such a competitive league means that it is too early to sound the alarm bells. The French top flight is not like La Liga, or perhaps the Premier League, where the leading teams streak clear and finish the season with only a handful of dropped points to their names. Lille began the 2010-11 campaign with four straight draws, and still ended up with the title.
Nonetheless, an exacting run of fixtures awaits. After Bordeaux, PSG visit title rivals Lille and then host Toulouse before another prickly trip to Corsica, to face Bastia, on the weekend of September 22-23. Ancelotti will be feeling distinctly hot under the collar if things have not improved by then.