It's been a long time since the Blues have found themselves in title contention.
For the past decade, they've unable to find the formula to lead them to post-season success, but with Super Rugby Aotearoa just three weeks from its finale, the Blues remain well and truly in the hunt.
However, given the short season there is little room for error in the coming weeks. Heading to Dunedin to meet the Highlanders on Sunday afternoon, the side has been warned one aspect of last weekend's win over the Chiefs could prove to be disastrous if they can't clean it up.
The Blues conceded 14 penalties to the Chiefs' six last Sunday, and fullback Matt Duffie said a penalty count so lopsided could not happen again.
"We won't survive another week like that I don't think," Duffie said. "(Defence coach) Tana (Umaga) made that very clear early on in the week and in our review. We just have to be a bit more switched on in that area."
Discipline has been an issue for the Blues all season, being on the wrong side of the penalty count in all six of their matches. The Blues are the most penalised team in the competition, having given away 26 more penalties than their opponents (48 for, 74 against), and only once committing fewer than 10 penalties in a match.
Umaga said it was an area that had been heavily addressed this week ahead of what is essentially a semifinal for the team. A loss against the Highlanders all but ends their chances of claiming the title, should the Crusaders beat the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
"Not giving away penalties has been a big focus for us. When we looked at it, a lot of it was on us not rolling away, not falling in the wrong place and making sure that those pictures we're giving the referee are clear about what he wants to see.
"We haven't played in many semis as this group, so just having that extra little pressure and putting ourselves under that really is a great lesson for our boys on what it's like to play at this time of the year."
When they're able to avoid the referee's whistle, the Blues have shown they are a dangerous outfit with the ball and tough defensively. But while it's great for Umaga to see them stand up on the defensive end, keeping possession is understandably key.
Phil Gifford: The day NZ rugby boss challenged Andy Haden to a fist fight
Gregor Paul: The ugly side to brilliant Super Rugby Aotearoa
NZ refs not world class? Frustrated Warren Gatland's message after howlers
"We know the Highlanders are going to throw everything they have at us, so we don't want to be defending for long minutes," Umaga said.
"We're very proud of the way the guys defend for each other. They work hard for each other and that's the key thing for us. Yet, we don't want to be doing it all day. I'm the defence coach and I love it, but you don't want to be doing it all day, so these guys have to understand we defend when we have to but we want to get the ball in our hands and give it a good crack."
The Blues attack will again feature the up-tempo stylings of Beauden Barrett at first five-eighth, after getting his first opportunity in his favoured position against the Chiefs.
Barrett was impressive in his return to the No 10 jersey and took the opportunity to utilise his running game with more time in possession.
"You saw the way he played and the opportunities he was creating. It's the opportunity that was given to him and he's taken it with two hands and earned the right to do it again," Umaga said of Barrett.
"You can tell he's been waiting for it."
The Blues have made just one change to their squad from last weekend, with Karl Tu'inukuafe starting at loosehead prop and Alex Hodgman moving to the bench.
For the Highlanders, Josh Ioane gets his first opportunity in the No 10 jersey this season after being utilised in various other roles in the backline.
With Ioane's move to first five-eighth, Mitch Hunt shifts to fullback while Michael Collins gets the nod to partner Patelesio Tomkinson in the midfield.
Highlanders: Mitch Hunt, Josh McKay, Michael Collins, Sio Tomkinson, Scott Gregory, Josh Ioane, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Dillon Hunt, Shannon Frizell, Jack Whetton, Pari Pari Parkinson, Jeff Thwaites, Ash Dixon, Ayden Johnstone
Reserves: Liam Coltman, Ethan de Groot, Siate Tokolahi, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Jesse Parete, Folau Fakatava, Bryn Gatland, Jona Nareki
Blues: Matt Duffie, Mark Telea, Rieko Ioane, TJ Faiane, Caleb Clarke, Beauden Barrett, Finlay Christie, Akira Ioane, Blake Gibson, Dalton Papalii, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tuungafasi, Kurt Eklund, Karl Tu'inukuafe
Reserves: Luteru Tolai, Alex Hodgman, Sione Mafileo, Josh Goodhue, Tony Lamborn, Sam Nock, Otere Black, Harry Plummer