England head coach Eddie Jones has chose to opt for Tuilagi due to the absence of Ben Te'o.
"It is well documented no one thinks we can win but I can tell you everyone inside our camp believes we can win", Jones said.
"But ultimately, it's a bit like everyone talks about who are the favourites, and that kind of talk doesn't really affect us. We know France is going to be a hard game", he said.
An unbeaten autumn worldwide campaign against the United States, Canada and Ireland gives them strong momentum, while high-profile players returning from the sevens programme provides a further boost to the squad.
You just know a referee's decision somehow, somewhere over the next seven weeks will have us thumbing the rugby lawbook, quoting 15.4, paragraph 2 with a sage stroke of the chin.
"We're protected from it because we want to keep improving, keep getting better and we're not fixated with sound bites that come from wherever".
"We know Mike Brown's a very good player". Such changes often have unintended consequences, so watch out for cute players and coaches coming up with ruses at the ruck. France face very hard away trips to Twickenham to play England and then of course to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.
"I think that is their plan", said Best, who has been captain since Paul O'Connell's retirement after the 2015 World Cup, at a press conference.
"We're much better at tracking back now to protect our catchers, which is a massive part of the game now".
"That's always the little thing that nags at you - you can't control what they do".
As is becoming custom for the Six Nations, albeit under a new headline sponsor this season, the festivities kick-off on Friday evening with a Parisian combat between France and Wales, before Italy enjoy a Saturday afternoon in Edinburgh to face Scotland - all of which building up to the one everyone will be watching as Ireland lock horns with England in Dublin.
New Zealand-born Aki's rugby odyssey has seen him settle with Connacht, where he is now the passionate heartbeat of Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad.
"They will be physical, but they will also play with a lot of width and speed".
And it would be no surprise to see more raucous Grand Slam celebrations in Cardiff on the eve of St. Patrick's Day, when Ireland finishes its campaign with what could be a decisive clash against Wales.
"But at the same time, everyone needs a high level of comfort, because you've got 12 countries with 12 different governance and approval systems".