With two hard-earned world titles in his pocket, Alonso is now near-universally regarded as the best driver in Formula One and he doesn't have a lot left to prove - which puts the pressure on McLaren to give him the equipment he needs to continue his championship run.
If he can complete his title hat-trick in 2007 he will have achieved something truly exceptional. Only seven times in Formula One's history has a driver claimed the title in their first year at a new team, and only Juan Manuel Fangio has ever won consecutive championships with different squads.
Legendary status is therefore within Alonso's grasp this season, if he can quickly acclimatise to McLaren, and reinvigorate a team that has not won a title this century.
The only question is whether he should have served a quiet F1 apprenticeship at a midfield outfit rather than walking straight into a title-challenging team alongside a reigning champion. And as hard as Hamilton has worked over the winter, he surely cannot be as well prepared as fellow debutant Heikki Kovalainen, given the Finn's full season of testing. But while Hamilton has a lot to learn, the scale of his task means that his achievements will be even more feted, especially if he can challenge his teammate.