Wales named their RBS 6 Nations squad on Tuesday with a feeling that their title defence may already be over before it has even started.
Injuries have crippled the Welsh in the lead-up to the tournament - which they begin against Ireland in Cardiff on February 2 - and which was reflected in the 35-man list named by interim boss Rob Howley.
The hardest-hit position has been in the second-row where Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris and Bradley Davies are all unavailable to due their ailments.
A patched-up squad has plenty of other holes to cover with fly-half Rhys Priestland and prop Aaron Jarvis absent while former skipper Ryan Jones was named, but is doubtful for at least two games, after dislocating his thumb with the Ospreys at the weekend.
If Howley, 42, wanted an easy ride after being handed the reins from Warren Gatland, while he prepares to lead this winter's British & Irish Lions tour of Australia, the former Wales skipper has not got it.
In all Howley has had to turn to five uncapped players.
The most surprising is the South African-born forward Andries Pretorius, 27, who only qualified for Wales on residence grounds last month.
Pretorius' fellow Cardiff Blues back-row Josh Navidi and wing Eli Walker are also included but the spotlight is set to fall on second-row duo James King and Andrew Coombs.
Both have been in good domestic form this season to inspire confidence Wales' woes may not be as deep as first thought.
Like Pretorius, Australian-born King's qualification for Wales has not been straightforward. The 22-year-old has English parents but spent his youth in north Wales and played for Mold.
It is an unlikely pathway to the Wales squad and, while injuries have fast-tracked King, his performances with the Ospreys determine that he will join the squad at least feeling as though he has earned his place.
Coombs too has impressed with the Newport Gwent Dragons and Wales may yet prove they have depth in a position where the uncapped duo will battle against Ian Evans, Lou Reed and Josh Turnbull for a place.
Despite that the situation is far from ideal or, most tellingly, as strong as their major rivals in terms of top-level experience and class.
France has recently named Pascal Pape skipper - following his success in the role during the autumn - while England's versatility between locks and the back-row is the envy of rugby the world over.
It promises to be a baptism of fire for King and Coombs.
It is not all doom and gloom for the Welsh though with some key names set to return after their forgettable autumn series.
Key man Adam Jones missed those games and is crucially back in tow alongside Craig Mitchell to bolster the front row.
Full-back Lee Byrne, who has helped Clermont Auvergne to Heineken Cup favouritism, returns for the first time since the World Cup while Dan Lydiate may play some part after being sidelined since September with a fractured ankle.
"We have put together a very experienced squad and complemented that by rewarding the in-form players with a call-up," Howley said.
"The players in the squad have been playing really well and we have been pleased with their individual performances.
"We have a group of players who know how to win big matches and have experienced success. We are adding to that players who have stood out and performed well for the regions this season."
While Howley has at least been able to cover his problem areas with players in form it is arguable whether they have the experience to retain the Six Nations.
If they are to have any chance they will have to start with a win in Cardiff against the Irish.
The autumn proved the importance of this team starting well - after they never truly recovered from their Samoa debacle - but if they fail to do so you get the feeling blooding the new players and easing back their injured stars - especially in a Lions year - will become the priority.