The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off in South Africa on Saturday with 10 previous winners among the 16 competing countries.
The hosts face Cape Verde Islands at 16:00 GMT before Angola meet Morocco at 19:00 in Group A.
It will be the fifth straight tournament that Ivory Coast arrive as favourites - and the Elephants will be desperate to finally fulfil their promise after losing two of the last four finals in agonising penalty shoot-outs.
Once again, the spotlight will shine on captain Didier Drogba, Africa's most high-profile player but whose missed penalty enabled Zambia to win last year's final and ensured his Nations Cup quest goes on.
Benefitting from the decision to play this year's finals just 12 months after the last tournament, because of a change in the event's timing from even to odd years, the 34-year-old knows this is his last chance.
"We have a team capable of great things at the 2013 Nations Cup," said the former Chelsea striker, who now plays in China.
"It would be great to win the trophy now. Honestly, we are getting tired of losing out each time."
Ghana's form indicates they will pose a strong challenge to the Ivorians while defending champions Zambia have returned with the core of their victorious 2012 team as the Chipolopolo aim to retain the title they surprisingly won in emotional circumstances in Gabon last February.
But given the change in scheduling, which was made to avoid Africa's teams contesting the Nations Cup in a World Cup year, Zambia's reign could be the shortest in the long history of the competition.
Herve Renard's side may have failed to impress in their warm-ups but they arrive at the tournament with a better squad than last year, with the addition of FC Utrecht striker Jacob Mulenga (who missed the 2012 finals through injury) and FC Porto defender Emmanuel Mbola.
As for Ghana, they have not won the title in more than 30 years but are still expected to do well despite being a side in transition, having been stripped of many experienced players.
They may be missing Marseille winger Andre Ayew, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien, the 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists have an emerging group of promising youngsters that coach Kwesi Appiah hopes to blend with the experience of captain and striker Asamoah Gyan.