Long gone are the days when four points from the visit of Benetton Treviso would have been seen as a ‘gimme’ and tonight’s encounter with the Italian side will provide Munster with as tough a test as they’ll face all season.
Franco Smith's side have won three of their last four games away from home and one of those wins came in Ravenhill where Munster came up short last time out.
And the last time these two sides met was in Stadio Monigo last February where a try from Ganzalo Padro and fourteen points from the boot of Willem de Waal gave the home side a 19-18 victory. It was Munster's first loss to an Italian side, the same side who frightened the lives out of them back in October 2009 when they scored two tries to race into a 10 point lead in a Heineken Cup Pool game.
So Thomond park Stadium will hold no fears for Treviso who bring with them a near enough full strength side that includes a clutch of Italian internationals among them Antonio Pavanello, Luke McLean, Franco Sbaraglini, the classy Alessandro Zanni and one of the leading RaboDirect PRO12 points scorers Kris Burton.
Not that Munster doesn't have a few thoroughbreds in it's stable. Paul O'Connell, Ronan O'Gara and the rest of their internationals are back after the Christmas break. Peter O'Mahony's back in after missing a few games because of a jaw injury and the youthful theme of this Munster selection is continued through Conor Murray, Simon Zebo, Stephen Archer and Danny Barnes and though Keith Earls could hardly be classed a veteran at 24 he has nearly 70 caps.
Coach Tony McGahan has again rung the changes but that's because of outside factors as much as anything else. It has to be anticipated that, by and large it's this group he'll be relying over the course of the next two Heineken Cup weekend's and they couldn't have a better preparation that what Treviso have planned for them tonight.
Munster: Denis Hurley; Johne Murphy, Keith Earls, Lifeimi Mafi, Simon Zebo; Ronan O'Gara, Conor Murray; Wian du Preez, Damen Varley, BJ Botha; Donnacha Ryan, Paul O'Connell capt; Peter O'Mahony, Niall Ronan, James Coughlan. Replacements: Denis Fogarty, Marcus Horan, Stephen Archer, Donncha O'Callaghan, Billy Holland, Tomas O'Leary, Ian Keatley, Danny Barnes.
Treviso: Luke McLean, Ludovico Nitoglia, Tommaso Benvenuti, Alberto Sgarbi, Brendan Williams; Kristopher Burton, Tobias Botes; Michele Rizzo, Franco Sbaraglini, Lorenzo Cittadini; Antonio Pavanello capt, Corniel Van Zyl; Gonzalo Padrò, Alessandro Zanni, Manoa Vosawai. Replacements: Diego Vidal, Matteo Muccignat, Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet, Valerio Bernabò, Enrico Pavanello, Simon Picone, Edoardo Gori, Alberto Di Bernardo
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU).