It looks a little like the Lions have signed up to a suicide mission. They will play four Super Rugby sides and NZ Maori in a 13-day block next year. Madness, say some - the sort of itinerary that will destroy the Lions physically and mentally and open up the national rifts that management so desperately hope can be kept beneath the surface.
What chance, after all that, of beating the All Blacks at Eden Park in the first test? Eden Park, where the world's No1 side hasn't lost since 1994, is no place for broken men. To believe it's a suicide mission is, by extension, tantamount to branding Lions coach Warren Gatland a fool for signing up to this.
And this is where the theory about the schedule being a suicide mission doesn't stand up to scrutiny: Gatland is no fool. He's one of world rugby's foremost thinkers and he's also, despite the fact he was appointed long after the schedule was revealed, the architect of the Lions' itinerary.
Having been head coach last time in Australia, Gatland's feedback to the Lions' executive team was that the squad went in to the first test underdone. It was the same in South Africa four years earlier - the Lions feeling that they were maybe one or two tough games shy of being truly ready to take on the Springboks.
The Lions can't afford to make that same mistake in New Zealand. Not against the All Blacks, who are often vulnerable in their first test of any season and then ruthless thereafter. Winning the series will be a bit like climbing Everest, in that the Lions will need to be fully acclimatised to make a successful ascent.
Gatland wants his men conditioned to the pace and intensity of rugby in New Zealand because he knows, as a Kiwi, that things are different out here. The Chiefs destroyed Gatland's Wales in June this year. Tore them apart with the pace they played at and the continuity skills they brought.
It was a sobering experience for the Welsh but their only regret was that they didn't have another game lined up to show what they had learned. Gatland has this option with the Lions and he won't worry if repeat exposure means repeat defeats.
If he's learned anything in two Lions tours, it is that the only thing that matters - the only thing anyone remembers - is the result of the test series. He won't sweat the results in the tour games. He won't mind that the travelling media might question his wisdom, as long as he feels the players are developing in the areas they need to be if they are to beat the All Blacks.
It's not so different to the All Blacks' 2015 World Cup campaign strategy. They used the pool games against Georgia and Tonga to hone specific parts of their game they felt would be tested in the knockout rounds. The performances ended up looking a little laboured but, come the quarter-final, the value was obvious when France were blown away by a 50-point margin.
The Lions hope to be able to do much the same, to build the component parts of their game and then bring them all together in the first test in a cohesive and accurate performance. That's why Gatland unveiled a coaching team last week that was familiar to him and the Lions. He has handpicked men who know the territory and the challenge.
They have to buy in to the big picture and do it quickly which is why he's gone with Andy Farrell and Rob Howley, in whom he has a depth of trust.
When Gatland's wider strategy is considered, the whole things starts to make sense.
His approach will be vastly different to that of Sir Clive Woodward, who was the last man to take the Lions to New Zealand. All of the players in Gatland's tour party will be given game time in the first week. All of the squad will travel to each venue - unlike 2005 when Auckland was base camp and those not involved on match day stayed behind.
And as much as they can, the Lions will have the mind-set of this being an old-fashioned tour. They will engage with their hosts. They will reach out to the communities in which they find themselves and they will, at least, try to win the respect of the locals they encounter.