The field is strong, the piste is challenging and the odds favour the usual suspects.
"There's a lot of good guys that can get on the podium come Sunday," Canada's 2011 world champion Erik Guay told reporters after two runs down the Rosa Khutor slope.
"I think it's going to be a really interesting race, a really competitive race. But ultimately it's going to be the best skier that gets up there. I think it's that kind of course.
"It's not going to be a lucky guy that pops in (to win), starting 35th."
In 2010, it was Switzerland's Didier Defago - at the time generally identified as 'the OTHER Didier' in a team that boasted the far more acclaimed Didier Cuche - who won the downhill gold.
In his third Games at the age of 32, it was the first time Defago had cracked the top 20 in Alpine skiing's most prestigious Olympic race.
France's Antoine Deneriaz, then ranked 38th in the World Cup standings, was an equally unexpected winner in 2006.
Austrian policeman Fritz Strobl had won Kitzbuehel twice but never a major title before he was crowned 2002 Olympic downhill champion in Salt Lake City, ahead of compatriot and favourite Stephan Eberharter.
Strobl was a more mainstream winner than Frenchman Jean-Luc Cretier - nearing the end of his career at the age of 31 and without a World Cup win in 11 years on the circuit - who took the gold in 1998 in his fourth Games.
Austrian Hermann Maier had been the favourite that year but crashed heavily.
In 1994, it was American Tommy Moe's turn to upset the applecart with victory in Lillehammer ahead of local Norwegian favourite Kjetil-Andre Aamodt. Moe never won a race after that in World Cup competition.
The same applied to Bill Johnson, the only other American to win an Olympic men's downhill, who triumphed in Sarajevo in 1984 and never again returned to the top of the podium.
Austrian Patrick Ortlieb was very far from being the obvious candidate for gold in 1992, having never won a World Cup race previously.
This year's favourites are either the usual suspects on the World Cup tour, multiple winners and champions - led by Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal and Bode Miller of the United States.
Austrian Hannes Reichelt would have been a favourite but was ruled out by injury after winning in Kitzbuehel last month in a cruel blow for himself and his country.
In his absence Matthias Mayer, son of 1988 super-G silver medallist Helmut, looks one to watch on what promises to be a challenging piste.
"He looks very good. I think he is our best one at this time and he has a good chance to win or make a medal," said team mate Klaus Kroell. "He has a big future. He's young, skis very well and has a very good technique."
And then there is Miller, the ageing showman who has won so much over the years and at 36 can become the oldest man to win an Olympic Alpine title.
"I don't know who is the favourite on Sunday but I know Axel has the ability to be there on any given course," he said, while also fancying his chances.
"I've been skiing really well and my fitness is really high...I think I am in a much better spot this year than I was in 2010. I was really pretty tested in 2010."
- Sports & Recreation