Mathieu Bastareaud scored his first two Test tries to help France to a 18-9 Six Nations win over Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday.
France lived up to their status as tournament favourites as Marc LiÃ¨vremont's team rode roughshod over their hosts in the first half to get their Six Nations campaign off to an ideal start.
The Scottish scrum had no answer to Les Bleus' heavies and the French rush defence left the home backline with no time to work with and moving backwards more often than not.
Bastareaud was lethal on attack and frightening in defence, answering his critics in the best possible manner with a barnstorming performance.
Once again Scotland made too many errors at vital moments, leaving their best hopes in Chris Paterson's metronomic boot. But even another flawless display from the kicking tee from the full-back wasn't enough to trouble the Tricolors.
In this age of conservative kicking, what a refreshing sight it was to see France cut loose on the counter attack. And they did it with ruthless efficiency. Ireland, beware!
Bastareaud's double first-half strike gave the visitors a 15-6 lead; it could have been a lot more but for an unlucky bounce here and a dodgy ruck there.
The second half was far less exciting as France's intensity seemed to drop a notch with their comfortable lead.
Scotland were able to string together plenty of phases but never threatened out wide.
As expected, the teams tore into each other with ferocious intensity early on. AurÃ©lien Rougerie put in two massive hits in the first two minutes - so big in fact that he was forced to leave the field two minutes later.
France were looking dangerous from kick-off but Scotland were first to get on the scoreboard when Imanol Harinordoquy was penalised for hands in the ruck on his own try line after Max Evans intercepted a Yannick Jauzion pass.
Scotland were handed a lifeline when Thom Evans brilliantly prevented Vincent Clerc from touching down after breaking clear from a sweeping French attack.
A succession of French five metre scrums was followed by the first try as Bastareaud had an easy run in for his first Test try after Harinordoquy had bashed it up.
The hosts' front row was getting worked over at scrum time and referee Nigel Owens saved them from further punishment by giving France a penalty. Morgan Parra landed it from 40 metres only to see Paterson do the same a few minutes later to leave the score 6-8.
Bastareaud was far from done though and when he got a pass from Harinordoquy 25 metres from home, he turned on the afterburners. None of the Scottish defenders seemed to be brave enough to even try to tackle him and the big centre's second try was made to look much too easy.
Scotland were relieved to survive a siege on their line to end the half but were put further behind after the break when Parra found the target again.
Scotland's only reply was another Paterson effort from the tee. The home back three did tireless work carrying the ball up, but Scotland's attacks lacked any real pace and would inevitably fizzle out after a handling error.
More than ever, France's showdown with Ireland in Paris next weekend looks set to be a possible tournament decider.
Man of the match: Some might disagree with me here considering the number of penalties he gave away at the rucks, but Imanol Harinordoquy was immense. The number eight is the kingpin of French attack and a man-mountain in defence. He hit the line harder than anyone else and made a bag-load of huge tackles.
Moment of the match: Scotland never looked like getting back in the game after Bastareaud's second try. Not only did it take the breath away from the spectators, it took the wind out of the Scottish sails.
Villain of the match: Nothing to report.
Tries: Bastareaud 2
Pens: Parra 2
Scotland: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Thom Evans, 13 Max Evans, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Chris Cusiter (c), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 John Barclay, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alastair Kellock, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Moray Low, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements:16 Scott Lawson, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Richie Gray, 19 Alan MacDonald, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Alex Grove, 22 Hugo Southwell.
France:15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Benjamin Fall, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Yannick Jauzion, 11 AurÃ©lien Rougerie, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Pascal Pape, 4 Lionel Nallet, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 William Servat, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Luc Ducalcon, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Julien Bonnaire, 20 Frederic Michalak, 21 David Marty, 22 Vincent Clerc.
Referee:Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Chris White (England) and Tim Hayes (Wales)
Television match officials: Geoff Hughes (England)
By Ross Hastie