However, even without the injured Gareth Bale, Wales' superior attacking talent and the vociferous support of a packed Cardiff City Stadium made Ireland manager Martin O'Neill's early strategy clear: simply weather the storm.
When are the World Cup play-offs? Federation Internationale de Football Association have already confirmed that the draw will be seeded based on world rankings, and given that Ireland's 34th rank is some way below most of their potential opponents, a harder draw (on paper, at least) is virtually guaranteed.
Chris Coleman (Wales): "We're on unsafe ground if we go in with a game plan of trying to soak the pressure up for 90 minutes".
A win guarantees second place in the group and a place in the play-offs.
While Ireland remain on course for a first World Cup finals appearance since 2002, surprise Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales saw their dream of a first appearance at the tournament since 1958 turn to dust. When we get off to a decent start (in qualifying), the mindset changes a little bit in terms of points.
Coleman said: "We don't really talk about anything but what we need to be doing right now".
There is still a chance for either side to top Group D, but that will depend on group leaders Serbia's result against Georgia. I can't say right now about my future because I'm genuinely not thinking about it.
"All I can control is my own group, the players and my staff - that's what I concentrate on and that's what we'll do in this game", said Coleman.
I am delighted and proud of the unbelievable achievements of the Northern Ireland team. You don't want to go out and try and win the game in the first ten minutes.
O'Neill played down the chances of injured pair Seamus Coleman, his captain, and Jon Walters returning to fitness in time for the two-legged November play-offs, the draw for which takes place on October 17. It will be the team's first World Cup since 1986, where they went out at the group stages.
It follows on from 2,000 travelling fans belting out the tune prior to the 1-0 over win over Georgia on Friday despite attempts from the hosts to quash the away support and their singing.
"We've got a good defensive record throughout the campaign, we're disappointed conceding a goal (against Norway), it would have been nice to have the eight clean sheets".