"This is not an All Black trial," echoed All Blacks selector and North Island head coach John Plumtree. And with that, much of the context surrounding the revival of the inter-island fixture can be confirmed.
After 10 weeks of brutal, test match-like New Zealand derbies the All Blacks selectors will, largely, have their extended squad locked in by the time the North and South sides kickoff on Saturday evening in Wellington.
The vast majority of established All Blacks have little to fret about. They will not be judged on this match alone; one poor individual performance won't see the axe wielded in cut-throat fashion.
Serious injury is, in fact, the worst event that could possibly transpire for many in the 80 minutes that will play out in the eerie presence of yellow seats.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster and fellow selectors Plumtree and Grant Fox will view with interest the battle of the respective midfields, front rows, locks, fullbacks, wings, loose forwards, sure.
Standout individuals may make that trio reassess the pecking order somewhat but for all the hype, the reality is only a handful of players at most have the chance to significantly alter perceptions.
A national trial for all this is not.
"Everyone might be seeing that way – and maybe in the old days they saw it as that," Plumtree said. "These boys have come together to win a trophy. We've got the luxury of sitting back and watching them go for 10 rounds of derby games.
"This game is about them and New Zealand enjoying the talent we've got in this country. Everyone is looking forward to it – and there will be a lot of eyes from around the world looking at this game too. We understand that.
"We'll get together after the game as selectors and have a chat about certain individuals but we've already seen these boys go enough."
Before Foster's first All Blacks squad is revealed on Sunday at 11am a clutch of fringe prospects will be much more nervous than their experienced counterparts.
Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua, who starts for the North in Dane Coles' absence, and 20-year-old Chiefs lock Tupou Vaa'i are among those with the most to gain. So, too, the North's blindside flanker Akira Ioane and the South's second-rower Mitchell Dunshea.
These are the roles considered most contestable.
Aumua has enjoyed a second coming at the Hurricanes. This is his chance to nail the set piece duties, to consistently hit North captain Patrick Tuipulotu at lineout time, and prove he should be New Zealand's third-choice hooker.
Back in 2017 Aumua struggled with being thrust into the limelight at the tender age of 20 when he was first picked for the All Blacks following his debut provincial season. Three years on, his destructive abilities around the park remain as compelling as ever but time has allowed him to mature into all aspects of what is required from athletes at this level.
"Asafo has grown professionally off the field mainly," Aumua's former Hurricanes coach Plumtree said. "Jason Holland, Chris Gibbs, Dan Cron have done a great job with him. He's got more confidence as time has gone on. We've seen a massive difference in him. We all know how he can play on the field. Now we're seeing a more consistent Asafo that's great for him and it's going to be great for us."
Vaa'i sits where Aumua once did. He's still green, having debuted for the Chiefs during Super Rugby Aotearoa after injuries decimated their locking stocks, but with Brodie Retallick on sabbatical and Scott Barrett injured, the chance is there for Vaa'i or Dunshea to break into Foster's maiden squad.
Otherwise, though, the selectors' minds are mostly made up.
North v South kicks off at 7.10pm on Saturday night. Live coverage on nzherald.co.nz, Newstalk ZB and Sky Sport.