The Wallabies pose arguably the most exciting backline in the global game with the brilliance of half-backs Will Genia and Quade Cooper providing the ammunition for the likes of Kurtley Beale and Digby Ioane.
While Mallett's side picked up an outstanding win over France in this year's Six Nations, they have yet to taste victory against Australia, and their South African coach believes the Wallabies Tri-Nations triumph, and the Reds' Super Rugby success, are an indicator of just how difficult the meeting in North Harbour Stadium in Auckland (kick-off 4.30am BST) will be,
"As the Queensland Reds won the Super 15 and Australia won the Tri-Nations this year one could argue that they are the form team going into this World Cup," Mallett told a press conference.
"And that makes it the toughest start possible.
"We've played them four times in the four years that I've coached Italy and every single time they've scored 30 points against us, but we've been between 10-20 points virtually every time we've played.
"Obviously, we think we're a side that's improving and we hope that we can do better than that on Sunday."
Mallett, who will leave his post at the end of the tournament, has selected an experienced side, with hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini and flanker Alessandro Zanni bolstering the pack after missing the warm-up defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.
But the former Stade Francais boss will be without injured prop Salvatore Perugini and lock Quintin Geldenhuys, although he hopes they will be fit for their meeting with Russia.
He said: "This is the most experienced and the best team that we can put on the field and there were two players who weren't considered in Salvatore Perugini and Quintin Geldenhuys.
"They are both recovering from minor injuries and they will be available for Russia (September 20).
"Otherwise, it's a team with a lot of experience which we will need against Australia."
Wallabies boss Robbie Deans has resisted the temptation to restore wing James O'Connor to his starting XV, opting instead to pick the same side that beat the All Blacks in Brisbane to secure that Tri-Nations title.
O'Connor missed that game after receiving a one-match ban for not attending the announcement of Australia's World Cup squad, and has not been handed an instant return despite being the team's regular goalkicker.
The Wallabies will start as overwhelming favourites but Deans is wary of the threat posed by the improving Azzurri.
"Their belief in terms of being able to perform more consistently at this level is growing," he said.
"I saw that in Rome earlier in the year and it manifested itself later in the Six Nations when they knocked off France. They'll be determined to make a statement first up in this tournament, and will see this as a great time to be getting us."
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