When the samba rhythms pulse and their players perform occult feats to a distant drum, nothing seems beyond four-times world champions Brazil.
A recent record of humiliating results and a corrosive corruption scandal can be disregarded. For the true soccer fan the World Cup will truly get underway when Brazil meet Turkey in group C on Monday.
The Brazilians' debut at the 2002 tournament has been given extra edge through an apparent turnaround from coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Scolari, who has preached discipline and stressed defence since taking over the national side, intends to introduce Juninho into the midfield in place of the defensive Kleberson.
Now Brazil are likely to start with Juninho and the elusive Ronaldinho in midfield, Ronaldo and Rivaldo in attack and Cafu and Roberto Carlos attacking down the flanks.
The switch from Scolari's favoured formation of three central defenders, two fullbacks and two tackling specialists has astounded Brazilian commentators.
Tostao, who played alongside Pele in the 1970 World Cup-winning side and who is now a leading columnist, said it was impossible to follow Scolari's reasoning.
"I still haven't discovered whether he is very confused or very self-assured," Tostao wrote. "Let's wait and see."
Brazil will take the field in Ulsan, South Korea, without captain Emerson who is out of the Cup after dislocating his shoulder in a training accident.
Emerson was playing in goal in a casual practice match when he fell awkwardly on his shoulder.
The European challenge will be headed on Monday by three-times champions Italy, who have paired Francesco Totti and Christian Vieri up front in an attacking formation for their opening group G match against Ecuador.
"It's clear that we can't sit back because it's their style to try and impose themselves on the game," said Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni.
Italy have the form, the pedigree and the coach to advance further. Trapattoni has won a plethora of titles at domestic and European level and coaches a team who have made an art form of defence.
The day's other match features Croatia against Mexico in group G, with Mexico coach Javier Aguirre particularly concerned at the speed of Davor Suker and Alen Boksic.
"Those two can break away and they have a lot of speed," said Aguirre. "We have to watch out."
Croatia coach Mirko Joziz added: "When you have strikers like Boksic and Suker available it's special."