Ryder Cup captains Davis Love and Jose Maria Olazabal were putting the final touches to their teams on Wednesday, seeking the magic formula that would bring glory on Sunday.
The US team, led by Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, but with four rookies adding a note of uncertainty, will start as slight favourites as golf's most spectacular tournament comes to Chicago for the first time.
With the exception of the veteran Jim Furyk, all the US players are in the world top 20.
But Europe have recent history on their side, having won six out of the last eight contests dating back to 1995 and four out of the last five.
World No.1 Rory McIlroy is the undoubted European star, but three others - Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose are in the top five.
Eight out of the 12-strong European team have winning records in the Ryder Cup, none of the Americans do so.
Davis Love has taken a leaf out of the booklet of Paul Azinger, who captained the last US victory at Valhalla, Kentucky four years ago, in choosing a birdie-friendly course that can fire up the Chicago crowds, while trying to instill a free-wheeling sense of fun and derring-do in his players.
Mickelson, who will set a new US record of nine Ryder Cup appearances, is convinced Love has got it just right.
"I think that over the years, looking back, we have not played our best when we have focused on trying to win the Ryder Cup," he said.
"We've played our best when we've had fun, enjoyed each other's company, and enjoyed the competition, embraced the gallery and felt the momentum kind of like in 2008 with Zinger (Paul Azinger).
"And I think for us to do well, we've got to feel the presence of the crowd here in Chicago.
"We need the support. We need that momentum. We need that energy that they provide for us to play our best golf, and I think that the environment here and the electricity that people bring is going to help us play well."
The European approach has been mainly low-key, in keeping with Spanish captain Olazabal, a player respected around the globe for his honesty and integrity.
With a more established line-up, containing just the one rookie in Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts, Olazabal's task in picking partners to play together has looked reasonably straightforward.
Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia are a fearsome foursome partnership unbeaten in four previous matches.
Northern Irishmen McIlroy and Graeme McDowell have been seemingly joined at the hip since McIlroy made his cup debut two years ago at Celtic Manor and Englishmen Ian Poulter and Justin Rose are great friends, who have made it clear they would love to play together again on Friday.
That just leaves who to put out with the most experienced player in the European line-up, Lee Westwood, with in-form Scot Paul Lawrie looking the likeliest to start with him.
Much has been made of the fact that this will be the first Ryder Cup since the death from cancer of Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros and his old playing partner Olazabal has evoked his memory on several occasions this week.
As a sign of respect, the European players will have a silhouette image of Ballesteros' famous clenched-fist celebration at the 18th hole of the 1984 Open at St Andrews on the front section of their bags.
"He has meant a lot to me and to the team, and I wanted to have something that was present to each and every player," said Olazabal.