Whatever way you look at it, the Republic of Ireland will be entering new territory as Germany come to the Aviva this evening. Just four of those that started against Italy in the Euros back in June will line-out this evening, due to retirements and a lengthy injury list, as the home team go in search of an unlikely victory.
While none of those set to start are debutants, there is a certain look of unfamiliarity in the collective group.
That tonight's captain John O'Shea hasn't played for Ireland without at least one of Shay Given, Damien Duff, Robbie Keane or Richard Dunne next to him in the same team - he made his debut over 11 years ago - highlights the different look to this side.
“It will be four players from the Euros starting tomorrow and the rest are younger, the experience is missing,” O’Shea said in yesterday’s press conference. “But the players that are in there now, some people have been calling for them to be given a chance, so now they have a massive chance.”
Certainly, the decision to bring an additional player into midfield was a wise, though entirely obvious, move. With Mesut Ozil possessing the ability to unlock any defence in the world, close attention will need to be paid. Keith Andrews will be handed the task of shadowing the Real Madrid dynamo. A torrid task for our only positive from Euro 2012, but it's hard to argue that he's not the best suited to that particular post.
Yesterday, Giovanni Trapattoni said that Ozil is almost unmarkable: “I think it’s impossible. I was a player and I marked famous players – Pele, Eusebio, Johan Cruyff – but there are players it is impossible to mark. Ozil is a player who is very difficult to mark.”
Of the other two in the middle, Keith Fahey and James McCarthy, the latter will be given the more attack-minded role. His creativity, if Ireland are to attack with any intent, will be nothing short of crucial on an evening that could possibly become an endurance test.
While Ireland look certain to play a 451/433 formation, the manager was eager to highlight that the side can be easily changed to 442 if the game dictates such a change.
“We can play 442 or 433. We will have to see what happens in the game. We can change from 442 or 433. I have to be sure that the system is available and that I can change immediately if I need to.”
The emphasis, one would be foolish to suggest otherwise, will be placed on containment against a side which is expected to have the most prolific of international strikers Miroslav
Klose up front. The evergreen Italian-based striker, who netted in that famous meeting at the 2002 World Cup, has never lost a game he's scored in for Germany.
O'Shea and Darren O'Dea alongside him will need to give the performance of their lives if Ireland are to get even a draw. Under Joachim Loew, Germany’s best performances have come after they score an early goal and, again, holding the world’s second best international side in the opening 20 minutes is the first hurdle Ireland will need to overcome.
Essentially, they’re a sublime team on the counter-attack and if they can score early, forcing Ireland to attack a bit more, the visitors could make easy pickings of the boys in green. Therefore, stemming the early flow of the opposition is crucial if Ireland are to get a result.
Of course, at the other end of the field, it will make Jonathan Walters' lonely job even more difficult but, even if Keane was fit, the Stoke man should have been given the nod.
That may seem harsh on Shane Long, who has been in the best form out of all the country's attackers recently, but, if as expected, he will be sprung off the bench, the Tipperary man will be more effective with fresh legs later in the evening.
If you had an in-prime Paul McGrath and Roy Keane in this side, Germany would still be overwhelming favourites, but with a sell-out crowd that the travelling side bizarrely seem to be more fearful of than their opposing players, calls from the Irish camp have been for a repeat of the type of atmosphere in the famous Netherlands win in 2001.
That might sound terribly clichéd, but Ireland will need every little possible help they can get to even scrap a draw this evening. Sad as it might sound, many fans will settle for a performance to be proud of, even if the result doesn’t go the home side’s way.
Alan Smith has been writing for ExtraTime since 2008. He works as a full-time journalist based in Cork, working as a sub-editor for TCM and freelancing for a range of national titles. Follow him on twitter @alansmith90.