Entering the 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo, 35-year-old Romed Baumann was a forgotten man, without a World Cup podium in six years and skiing for Germany because he could no longer guarantee his spot in the powerful Austrian team.
"With a little luck, maybe we can make a surprise," he said on the eve of Cortina 2021, but that prediction seemed to be little more than hopeful optimism from a skier whose best days appeared to be behind him.
Baumann, of course, won an improbable silver medal in the first event, the super-G, to prove yet again that at major championships, anything can happen.
Two years later, as the world's best Alpine skiers descend on the French resorts of Courchevel and Meribel for the 2023 world championships, a host of would-be Romed Baumanns will try to upset the World Cup form guide and crash the podium.
"It's always a little bit different than the World Cup," said Norway's Sebastian Foss-Solevaag as he prepares to defend his world championship slalom title in the midst of a disappointing season.
"There's a lot of things around it that makes the world championships really special."
The opportunity to enter Courchevel Meribel 2023 with a clean slate will give hope to many who have not shown their best form so far this season, but of greater importance could be the momentum that the current World Cup heavyweights carry into the main event of 2023.
Leading the way is American star Mikaela Shiffrin, who brings her record-breaking World Cup form to the world championships, a stage upon which she has won six gold medals and claimed 11 podium finishes since her first triumph in 2013 aged 17.
If she can match her four podium finishes from Cortina 2021, Shiffrin would equal the record for any Alpine skier of 15 world championships medals, set by Germany's Christel Cranz in 1941.
Apart from Shiffrin, other women's stars looking to convert their stellar World Cup form into world championships bling include Italy's Sofia Goggia and Switzerland's Lara Gut-Behrami.
Goggia missed the last world championships on home snow through injury, but the 2018 Olympic downhill champion has won four of the six World Cup downhills this season and is primed to challenge for her first world championships medal in the discipline.
It is a different story these days for Gut-Behrami, who entered Cortina 2021 having never won a major championship title but will arrive in Meribel as the defending champion in super-G and giant slalom and the Olympic super-G champion from Beijing 2022.
With wins in super-G and giant slalom so far this season, the 31-year-old Swiss racer is expected to increase her haul of eight world championship medals that she has amassed across five editions dating back to 2009.
On the men's side, this season's epic battles between Switzerland's Marco Odermatt and Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde will now take place with even more at stake as both seek their first world championship medals.
Odermatt is favoured to repeat his Olympic triumph in giant slalom while Kilde has the edge in downhill, in which he has won five World Cup races this season.
The discipline in the middle, super-G, is where the rivalry between the two reaches its crescendo, making it one of the most anticipated races of these world championships.
And if either skier falters in the speed races, Austria's Vincent Kriechmayr is waiting in the wings. The double world champion from 2021 has won three World Cup downhill races this season and appears to be the only man capable of upsetting the big two.
While it seems inevitable that these favourites will find their way on to the podium, questions surround many other medal hopefuls as the season reaches its peak in the French Alps.
Can Courchevel local Alexis Pinturault overcome the pressure and his indifferent form since winning the 2021 overall World Cup title to claim gold in his own backyard?
Will Austria's Katharina Liensberger be able to put the distractions of a nightmare season on and off the slopes behind her as she defends her slalom and parallel titles?
Can Italy's Federica Brignone bounce back from three DNFs at home in Cortina two years ago to return to the world championships podium for the first time since 2011?
Will Slovakia's Olympic slalom champion Petra Vlhova be able to use the added motivation of the world championships to flick the switch and return to her winning ways?
Is Norway's young star Lucas Braathen ready, at 22, to rise to the occasion in the technical disciplines at his first world championships?
And does France's evergreen speed racer Johan Clarey have enough left in the tank to sign off with a fairytale victory on home snow at 42?
The answers to these questions and more will reveal themselves over the next two weeks starting on Monday. And, as Romed Baumann might say, look out for a surprise or two.