Forget jingoistic talk about retaining the County Championship crown.
Warwickshire are in a relegation fight, and their game starting at Lord's today is likely to have a crucial bearing on the outcome.
Hosts Middlesex are one place above Warwickshire and highly likely to be placed towards the bottom of Division One come the end of season. If either side lose this game, they will be perilously close to the abyss.
Fielding an almost unchanged team is often a sign of strength, but not on this occasion. Injuries and England calls have pared the Warwickshire squad to the bone and there was Hobson's choice as to the make-up of this side. It is, bar one change, the same as the side outplayed by Nottinghamshire.
Warwickshire have lost their last two games but will, at least, be strengthened by the arrival of Makhaya Ntini. The South African fast bowler provides a welcome cutting edge to the attack and, having taken ten wickets in the Test at Lord's in 2003, can be considered familiar with the unusual conditions at the ground.
It is interesting to note that Ntini will become the 20th player the club have used in the Championship this season. They used just 14 in the whole of the last campaign. James Anyon is likely to make way.
Ntini used the infamous slope at Lord's tremendously well in 2003. Distinctly sharp of place and renowned for his fitness, the only concern is that he has not bowled in anger for some time. Given patience, however, he will surely prove an astute signing.
It is possible that Ashley Giles may also be available for Warwickshire. If England decide that they will have no requirement for a spinner in the second Test at Edgbaston, Giles could travel to Lord's and replace a 'nominated player' any time until the start of play on Friday. Warwickshire must nominate a player - probably Luke Parker - when their final XI is announced this morning.
The bowling is the least of Warwickshire's concerns, however. Neil Carter, who produced perhaps the best spell of his career by utilising the Lord's slope brilliantly last year, has been in fine form all season, while Dewald Pretorius also appears to be finding the rhythm and confidence that once made him a Test bowler.
The real concern remains the batting. Parker and Ian Westwood deserve another chance after dogged displays against Nottinghamshire, but the much-vaunted middle order need to stand up and be counted if their team are not to sink further into the mire.
That the trio of Alex Loudon, Jonathan Trott and Jim Troughton are talented is well known and oft repeated. They will also never fail for lack of effort.
Yet such talk is cheap and their team requires results now. In the absence of Michael Powell, Ian Bell and Mark Wagh, the trio must take responsibility for ensuring Warwickshire post competitive totals. Attractive cameos will not do. Dougie Brown will also need to improve with the bat. Since his first knock of the season he has made just 155 runs in 12 Championship innings.
It is not hard to see why Warwickshire have struggled this season. In their last six Championship games, only once have they exceeded 265 in their first innings. Unless that improves in the final seven weeks of the season, they will be relegated. It will be of little comfort to Warwickshire that Middlesex have not beaten them at Lord's since 1983.
Middlesex, meanwhile, will field their fourth overseas player of the season in fast bowler Stuart Clark. Nantie Hayward is also included in their squad after a long injury lay-off.
Warwickshire (from): * N Knight, I Westwood, J Trott, A Loudon, J Troughton, D Brown, + T Frost, L Parker, N Carter, M Ntini, J Anyon, D Pretorius.