The French entered this tournament full of optimism following last year's Grand Slam and their success during the November internationals, but their challenge for top honours has faltered in a way few thought possible.
There was no shame in losing to England at Twickenham, but they suffered a narrow but disappointing defeat in Ireland.
These results sandwiched a fine performance against Scotland and France's recent lack of consistency - a scourge of the national side in the past - is cause for concern with the World Cup just eight months away.
Italy are the side facing the blue backlash, but they are better equipped to deal with it now than at any other time since their entry into the 6 Nations.
Coach John Kirwan has knitted together a unified team which is playing some attractive rugby - the 40-5 scoreline against England suggested a one-sided match but after conceding a 33-0 lead, the Italians dominated large sections of the match.
Damage limitation is no longer the priority for Italy, but France should still prove far too strong for Kirwan's game outfit.