Euro 2012 - Team profile: France
A 2-1 win against Germany in Bremen in February stretched les Bleus' unbeaten run to 18 games as they showed they should definitely be a force to be reckoned with in June - even though some of their performances in the qualifiers left something to be desired.
That run has since stretched to 20 matches.
"Everybody was a bit scared before the Germany game and everyone has been pleasantly surprised by our match and by the result," said France coach Laurent Blanc, who took over from Raymond Domenech after les Bleus were knocked out in the first round following off-pitch drama.
Almost two years later, the former world and European champions have regained composure.
"It is nice to win in Germany but we still have a lot of work to do to perform well," said Blanc. "The victory in Bremen showed we are able to raise our level on one game. But I say one game. Whether we can do it throughout a competition is another question."
Blanc's first ambition was to win one game in a group featuring old foes England, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine.
The Germany win obviously changed that with France now expected to go through after recording victories against England, Brazil and Germany since the World Cup.
Mexes has partnered with the Valencia defender 10 times since the World Cup, in which France conceded only four goals, including two in Blanc's first outing, a 2-1 defeat against Norway.
But France's defensive record also owes a lot to cold-blooded keeper Hugo Lloris, who has been named captain after a string of perfect performances both with Lyon and les Bleus.
Blanc's main concern may be the left flank, where Franck Ribery has been struggling to reproduce the form that made him an undisputed starter at Bayern Munich.
Despite the positives though, France's qualification for the finals was not without its worries.
They finished just one point clear of Bosnia at the top of their group, but the final group game - against Bosnia in Paris last October - did not go exactly according to plan.
Bosnia took the lead before half-time, and with 13 minutes to play, they were leading the group with France second. However, that changed with Samir Nasri equalised for France from the spot and that goal enabled France to draw and Finish on 21 points to Bosnia's 20.
That points tally was the lowest by any group winner in the six-team groups and does hint at an inconsistency that may yet undermine their high hopes of emulating the 1984 and 2000 European Championship-winning sides.