The AFCON 2013 pre-tournament talk emanating from the various camps points to a keenly contested competition over the next three weeks.
The 16 protagonists are champing at the bit and their declarations of intent augur well for the eagerly-awaited continental tournament.
"I'm very hopeful we can break the jinx and end the long wait for the African title," Asamoah Gyan on Ghana's 31-year AFCON drought.
"We leave to South Africa to conquer the tournament with the intention of winning it for our people because they deserve it, we deserve it," Didier Zokora on the Elephants' determination to win the title they last claimed in 1992.
"The players are aware of the expectations and are fully committed. They have been working very hard as they know there's no bigger occasion than this," Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund on the hosts' dreams.
It is clear there are AFCON ghosts to be exorcised, wrongs of the past to be righted, unwanted tags and reputations to be shed, itches to be soothed.
It feels like yesterday that Zambia lifted their maiden AFCON trophy for an emotional triumph so unexpected it evoked memories of Greece winning the European Championships in 2004 and Denmark in 1992.
The Zambians will feel a pang of disappointment at having to put their title on the line hardly a year after winning it, a consequence of the Confederation of African Football's decision to reschedule the competition in such a way that it is not held in a FIFA World Cup year.
Can Chipolopolo win the 29th edition and make it back-to-back triumphs? There are lingering doubts about the reigning champions' ability to do it all over again.
It is telling that Ghana and Ivory Coast, the teams Zambia saw off en route to the title in 2012, are installed as favourites. Some football pundits and fans alike believe that after the 2012 'fluke' normal service will be resumed and the big boys will once again reassert themselves in South Africa.
Few things motivate a team more than a determination to defy the odds and confound the doubters. Zambia will not relinquish their title without a fight. They will also be under no illusion about the magnitude of the threat to their ambitions.
Ivory Coast's much-vaunted golden generation came close in previous tournaments, but not close enough, acquiring for themselves a reputation as the nearly-men of African football.
The quality of the Elephants' squad at AFCON 2013 is unmatched. Their billing as favourites is therefore understandable.
Ghana, served well by selection continuity, have been bubbling under for a few years now. With the genuine talent they possess, could this be the year the Black Stars finally erupt?
For South Africa the opener against Cape Verde will set the tone. It is a match the hosts cannot afford to lose. They will want to put down a marker and send a message to all the rivals.
Defeat would leave Bafana Bafana staring down the barrel. They don't want their hard-to-please, notoriously fickle fans on their backs.
Are the hosts weighed down by expectation? Methinks the pressure to emulate the class of '96 has become the albatross around Bafana Bafana's collective neck.
It is a measure of how far Nigeria have fallen that they are hardly mentioned among the favourites, even on reputation alone. Instead, the Super Eagles will have to be content with a place in the 'dark horses' category.
But is the Southern African challenge fronted by Angola, South Africa and Zambia strong enough to break the North and West African duopoly?
Football fans love a Cinderella story. Until Claude Le Roy quit as coach, the Democratic Republic of Congo were nailed on to write this story. They have the squad to compete against the continent's best and had a wily, experienced coach as the galvanising force.
The Ethiopians are also talking a good and defiant game. What a story it would be if they were to go all the way.
Come February 10, as the cliche goes, there can only be one winner. For the rest the ghosts will continue to haunt, the unwanted reputations acquired over previous tournaments will be underlined and enhanced.
For others the wait for glory will continue.