Johnson, who retired from international rugby after helping England win the World Cup last year, admits Italy will have an extra incentive to upset the new world champions in their RBS 6 Nations opener on Sunday.
England look less intimidating without injured World Cup hero Wilkinson but Johnson is confident coach Sir Clive Woodward has picked a formidable team.
He said: "They are always under pressure but everyone wants to beat us a little bit extra with the World Cup - I think the guys will relish the challenge and look forward to it.
"The challengers have made some noises about giving us a big fright and let's hope it's a great game and I'm sure the boys will be up for it.
"It's an exciting team, a few guys out from the World Cup team, a few injured, but some good guys are in there so they will be looking forward to it.
"Like any team, it's about who's there, not about who's not there. There's plenty of experience.
"It's the same every week - once you get on the field it's 15 against 15, whether it's a World Cup final, Six Nations, or whatever, and they will be looking forward to it.
"They will want to play the game, play it well, and get a good win. It's about winning and there's no pressure about winning well, it's just about winning games and trying to retain the Grand Slam."