Australia face world No.69 Honduras on Friday afternoon (Saturday morning AEDT) in San Pedro Sula, beginning a two-match series that will send one of the teams to Russia.
It's a challenging road the Socceroos have walked several times before, and one coach Ange Postecoglou insists his team is up for.
"We're going as hard as we can in both games and they'll have to keep up," he said.
On paper, Australia match up well with their opponents, with more overseas-based stars, more wins in qualifying and a better qualifying pedigree.
But the Socceroos face challenges - both in their own ranks and from the opposition.
The absence of Mark Milligan, Mat Leckie (suspension), Robbie Kruse (knee) and an injury to superstar forward Tim Cahill means Postecoglou must rejig his team for the away leg.
Australia also have a poor record in FIFA World Cup play-offs. The Socceroos are yet to win an away leg and have qualified just once from six appearances.
Then there's 'La Tumba'.
The Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, nicknamed the tomb for its reputation of ending the careers of opposition coaches, is Honduras' best asset.
Los Catrachos have lost just four times in 25 home qualifiers over the past decade, a solid foundation they have used to reach the last two FIFA World Cups.
The 40,000-capacity stadium will be rocking for Australia's visit, but Postecoglou isn't skiving away from the occasion.
His message is to bring it on.
"The atmosphere, it will be passionate as it should be," he said.
"We know there's a big prize at stake and we're not expecting to come here and have an easy ride.
"Players will be looking forward to that."
Convention in home and away play-offs is that avoiding defeat in the away tie is key to succeeding over two legs.
The Socceroos believe an unbeaten record in hot-weather away days - in Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia - so far on the road to Russia holds them in good stead.
Tom Juric, who will lead the line in San Pedro Sula, said he would relish the occasion.
"These hostile environments, I like playing in these sort of games," he said.
"That will bring the best out of a lot of us.
"It will be a key to stay focused on what we do and keep those emotions to a minimum."
Of course, Honduras will face the same gauntlet in Australia.
The Central American side's home record is impressive - but Australia's run of just one home qualifying loss since 1981 - some 58 matches - is untouchable.
Keeping one eye on the home leg, Postecoglou said he will make Honduras work for a result ahead of the return to ANZ Stadium on November 15.
"This is their chance in a two-legged tie to really use every advantage that they have in terms of the crowd, in terms of their conditions. We expect everything to be in their favour," he said.
"Then we come home and we expect to get 80,000 in our stadium.
"For all the talk of the environment and the conditions, our home form is pretty formidable so they'll need to get something out of this game."