Just as it would be lovely to think that global warming did not exist and human rights were universal, it would be comforting to assume that the Six Nations Championship is about more than England and France, the two great warhorses of European rugby.
Eighteen months shy of the next World Cup, the old continent needs to show itself in all its diversity.
New Zealand might be one hell of an act right now, but the southern hemisphere as a union bloc is very definitely there for the taking.
They already play each other too often, the All Blacks and Springboks and Wallabies, and as they are about to start playing each other more often than ever before, it will not be long before the Blacks and the Boks find themselves doing their stuff before half-full stadiums in Auckland and Johannesburg.
The Tri-Nations has moved from a home-and-away format to a home-away-and-back-again programme, largely at the behest of the broadcasting community.
Why not have a game a day from Monday through Saturday, with an omnibus fixture on the Sabbath?
Up here in the north, meanwhile, less continues to equal more, with tickets for the vast majority of Six Nations matches rarer than radium.
England and France, gorging themselves on the succulent flesh of their extraordinarily competitive domestic leagues, look well set for a strong showing, both now and in 2007.
If only the Celts could find a way of dragging themselves another couple of steps up the mountainside, God would be in his heaven and all would be right with the world.
Hang on a darned minute, you say.
Didn't Wales win the tournament last season, Grand-Slamming and clean-sweeping their way through the championship with performances rich in wit and imagination?
Indeed they did, but on reflection, the resurgence of the Red Dragonhood was the product of a very peculiar competition.
It was not a fluke, exactly; teams do not deliver second-half displays of great courage and no little brilliance against the Tricolores in Paris without having something of the real McCoy about them.
Yet it is difficult to recall the 2005 jamboree without reaching the conclusion that both France and England aimed 12-bore rifles in a southerly direction and blew their own feet to smithereens.
Besides, teams of the highest quality perform well in this tournament season on season, not once in a blue moon.
France were supreme in the years leading into the 1999 World Cup and duly reached the final by putting the All Blacks to the sword at Twickenham; England won three titles in four years before going the whole hog in Australia in 2003.
The Welsh, on the other hand, have only two outright tournament victories to their name since 1979.
It is not the record of a global power.
There are injuries, too. Lots of them. And suspensions.
Gavin Henson, ignored by the Big Brother producers despite a C-list celebrity status that should have guaranteed him the keys to the house, is currently serving time and will not be around to torment England with his goal-kicking, as he did in 2005.
Ian Evans, the vigorous young Ospreys lock, is also banned, and there are concerns that Dafydd Jones, the Llanelli Scarlets flanker, will go the same way, having been sent off at the weekend.
The Welsh have a reputation for thinking on their feet when it comes to rugby, but there are only so many personnel problems they can absorb.
All the same, there are good reasons to believe that this year's competition, which starts with the whimper of an Ireland-Italy match in Dublin on Saturday lunchtime before deafening the lot of us with the almighty bang of an England-Wales contest in London two hours later, will be every bit as unpredictable as last season's, but for more satisfying reasons.
Both the Irish and the Scots - yes, the Scots - are nicely positioned to make their rivals sit up and take notice.
They may not have the wherewithal to win the title - both teams have three away fixtures, which makes life extremely difficult - but their failures are likely to be far more honourable than those of 12 months ago.
Not for the first time in their rugby history, Ireland struggled to cope with positive expectation, as opposed to expectation of the negative variety, last time out.
They scrambled a victory over England at Lansdowne Road, but only with the aid of an errant referee, and by the time they succumbed to both France and Wales they looked like a side who had peaked some way short of the summit.
That notion was reinforced when a handful of their regular Test hands - Paul O'Connell and Gordon D'Arcy, Ronan O'Gara and Geordan Murphy - failed to seize the day with the Lions in New Zealand.
Suddenly, they looked like a flock of sheep in sheep's clothing.
Over the last few weeks, though, the Irish have dragged themselves back up to speed with some blinding performances at Heineken Cup level.
Munster's forwards have been cracking opposition heads with the savage enthusiasm of old, Leinster's backs have been running rings round everyone, set free from their chains by the super-smart Australian coach Michael Cheika.
There are fresh faces in the elite squad - the Munster hooker Jerry Flannery, the Wasps scrum-half Eoin Reddan, the Ulster backs Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe - and fresh ideas, too.
Last year, the Irish fancied themselves and said so.
This year, they are keeping their fancies to themselves.
By contrast, the Scots have not been heard shouting the odds for a decade or more - not since Gregor Townsend and Rob Wainwright were in their pomp.
Indeed, they have suffered horribly in recent seasons: playing numbers down, gate receipts down, disillusion sky-high.
Yet they may have struck gold by appointing Frank Hadden as national coach.
Hadden is realistic and optimistic in equal measure, a paragon of rugby sanity.
He understands the need to build from the bottom up rather than the other way round, hence his decision to scrap a good 50 per cent of the training days put in place by his discredited predecessor, Matt Williams, in favour of more competitive activity at club level.
He knows he cannot win the Six Nations, but he is in no doubt that his side will give France a proper run for their euros at Murrayfield this weekend.
On the face of it, the French should not be overly concerned about forthcoming events in Edinburgh.
Any side capable of forfeiting the services of Aurelien Rougerie, Thomas Castaignede and Serge Betsen without bemoaning their rotten luck is formidable in the extreme; any side blessed with a midfield triumvirate of Frederic Michalak, Florian Fritz and the magical Yannick Jauzion should expect to win 95 per cent of their fixtures.
As they have Ireland and England at home this time, there can be no argument with the favouritism bestowed upon them by the bookmakers.
They are no spring chickens up front, despite the emergence of the 23-year-old Stade Francais hooker Dimitri Szarzewski.
Pieter de Villiers is 33, Sylvain Marconnet is almost 30, Fabien Pelous is almost as old as Noah, and England, especially, will not fear the French tight forwards.
Quite whether the world champions can hold the Tricolore backs is another question entirely.
If, as many confidently expect, the French win this tournament, they will do it in the grand manner, with ball in hand.
Such footballing grandeur does not sit comfortably with the English, even though Charlie Hodgson is coming on strong as an outside-half of serious calibre.
There are natural finishers aplenty - Josh Lewsey, Mark Cueto, Ben Cohen, Tom Voyce and Tom Varndell all know an opposition goal-line when they see it - but a sharp appreciation of the subtleties of life in midfield has been absent for England since Will Greenwood disappeared into the unfathomable depths of Second Division rugby.
They remain a bullying kind of side, and while bullies win more than their fair share of matches, the really important games demand brainpower as well as brawn.
Which is what gives the Six Nations its light and shade.
England will beat the majority of their opponents to a pulp, but there is always the possibility that one of the Celtic countries will out-think them, confuse them and, if they take their chances, defeat them.
Oh, the fun of it.
- INDEPENDENTBy Chris Hewett Email Chris