Forget the often trotted out "there are no minnows" refrain. Defending champions Zambia and former champions Nigeria pick themselves as favourites to progress from Group C, with a toss of the coin to decide the outright winner of the group.
Should either Burkina Faso or Ethiopia record unlikely victories over the much fancied above-mentioned pair, the feats would firmly fall into the upset category.
Zambia emerged from Gabon and Equatorial Guinea as the unlikeliest of champions. Very few gave them a prayer against the much-vaunted Ivory Coast going into the final. Chipolopolo will therefore be determined to prove that the triumph, inspired by and dedicated to the memories of the squad that perished in a plane crash in 1993, was no fluke.
Coach Herve Renard's has put together a solid squad that combines collective work ethic and individual brilliance, the latter subservient to the former. With a number of their players earning their corn in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL), Zambia are well placed to exploit familiar conditions to their advantage and do well at this tournament.
Given the talent at their disposal, Nigeria should have won more than the two AFCON titles they have to their name. Frustratingly for their supporters, the Super Eagles have gone into tournaments with their hopes already shattered, thanks to pre-tournament preparations bedevilled by internal squabbles, either over player payments, player egos, team selection or a general knack for pressing the self-destruct button.
On their day Nigeria have the beating of any team on the continent. If coach Stephen Keshi can get his players focused and manage to instil a unity of purpose in his squad, the Super Eagles could be one of the tournament's dark horses. How well they do in the group stages will give an indication of their determination to right the wrongs of the past and shed their hara-kiri tendencies. Still, they should have enough to get out of the group, if only on reputation alone.
Publicly both Burkina Faso and Ethiopia will reject the suggestion that they are at the tournament to make up the numbers. Realistically, for all their determination they simply do not have the quality to back their defiant tunes.
But if there is to be an upset in the group, it is likely to be caused by Burkina Faso than Ethiopia. The Burkinabe have a reasonable AFCON pedigree and both Nigeria and Zambia will treat them warily and with respect. On the other hand, Ethiopia, who are former champions by the way, have the 'whipping boys' tag firmly nailed on.