In the last few days leading into the World Cup a popular statement to any New Zealand player has been along the lines of, "Every day is a good day for the team at the moment." Their response has generally been to smile in agreement. None of them have been afraid to laud the side's recent performances, least of all Brendon McCullum, but on the eve of the World Cup the captain knew the time for looking back was finished.

This tournament can define a generation for New Zealand. It did so for the class of '92, but from a position of performing so far above expectation. This time the players have been treading a fine line between riding the wave of emotion that has steadily built up and not being swept away by it. However, McCullum, who has three previous World Cups under his belt, admitted he had never been part of a team that felt so confident.

"You always hoped things would work out well but did we genuinely believe it, maybe, maybe not. We believe we're a good team and we have a chance at this World Cup but there's some good teams around as well. We're going to need things to fall in our favour.

"It sits comfortably with me. If we get beat then we get beat, but if we play our best game we can walk away pretty satisfied and that will give us our best chance."

"Everyone's excited. It's been a great build-up and all the management and coaching staff have done a brilliant job of getting us to this point and now it's a matter of how we seize the opportunities we get. We've been playing some good cricket but we know the slate is now clean."

Smartly, New Zealand have not tried to shut out the public goodwill, they have not baulked or become edgy with questions about being one of the favourites. They have more than played their part - on and off the field - in raising the anticipation levels, to the point where everyone is relieved that the start is almost upon us.

However, McCullum has also been keen to stress the need for level heads - "emotional stability" is one of his latest phrases - and he believes it has been the team's ability to embrace everything that has been going on around them that has helped that, rather than pretend it is nothing different.

"We knew that if we were able to gain some performances leading into a World Cup at home that the expectation would rise so we were able to put some things in place to deal with those," he said. "One of things we discussed a lot is being really stable emotionally. The game has its ups and downs without having to add your own. We try to maintain a really stable environment. You never know if it's going to work in the crunch situations but it will give us our best chance."

Although McCullum was relaxed on Friday, he will have to ensure he looks after himself as well as his team during this tournament. While the group-stage match schedule is not especially demanding, the focus will be on him endlessly.

He met Richie McCaw, the All Blacks' captain, at the opening ceremony in Christchurch and for a short time, at least, he will have a taste of what his fellow leader contends with. He said he had not asked for any particular advice yet, but may yet do so depending on how deep into the tournament New Zealand travel.

"I've got a job to do, I guess it's all encompassing in terms of leading the team, opening the batting. Is there extra pressure? I guess there is on everyone. I'm excited about it, I have high ambitions of what I want to achieve but whether you achieve them or not is another thing. But I go in feeling reasonably confident and secure in the fact that I'm surrounded by guys I trust and believe in. As a captain that's a significant thing.

"I hope to be able to make some significant contributions in the tournament. I believe we have guys who are capable of topping run-scoring charts and wicket-taking lists. It would be nice if I was one of them, but I'd take a World Cup win and having a low one in your own form any day."

Andrew McGlashan is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo