The Blues may well have been brought back down to earth by Super Rugby Aotearoa's continual pace setters, but a legendary All Black believes they're right on the cusp of success.
The Auckland franchise was humbled by the defending champion Crusaders 43-27 at Eden Park on Sunday, suffering their first loss of 2021 and ending a five-game winning run at home.
It also reaffirmed the gulf that currently lies between the Cantabrians and the rest of the contingent of New Zealand Super Rugby sides.
However Sean Fitzpatrick – who captained the All Blacks, Blues and Auckland in dominating eras – told Sky Sport's The Breakdown he believes the Blues aren't far off leapfrogging the Crusaders and wining silverware.
"I'm really pleased we have a number of players that have resigned for the Blues now; they can see that this team's going to win trophies. Unfortunately we got undone, but that's the bar – we're trying to lift the bar and we got exposed in certain areas which we need to get better in," Fitzpatrick says.
"As the game wore on, a few cracks started to appear in the Blues and that's just an experience thing and a quality thing also.
"I think we've turned the corner from where we were a few years ago. They're realising you have to be totally committed to the cause… you need to be totally focused on what you're doing."
In saying that, Fitzpatrick conceded the Crusaders are currently at an unmatched level, and couldn't help but extend praises to Scott Robertson's side.
"I take my hat off to them, [the players] year in year out, whether they're playing for the All Blacks or they're the Crusaders, they put in 100 per cent.
"You look at their 9, 10, 12 how good they were, their decision makers when the going got tough."
2020 marked a fourth consecutive Super Rugby title for the Crusaders since Robertson took over as coach prior to the 2017 season. Their defence for a potential five-peat is off to the perfect start with four wins from four, and they now have a bye week to enjoy before their next test against the Highlanders on April 2.
Sir John Kirwan shared similar thoughts to Fitzpatrick, and says the Blues were behind the eight ball in key areas.
"When you look at that game we probably didn't match them in the discipline stakes or the maul takes and you can't do that. You got to be perfect across the field," he says. "You give them an inch, they'll take it."
2021 for the Blues marks year three under coach Leon MacDonald and year two as a transformed side with winning slowly embedding itself into their fabric.
The Auckland franchise gained a total of 10 wins and four losses in 2020. Taking away clashes with the Crusaders, they've gone 12-2 through 14 games since the start of last year.
Kirwan says when comparing the Crusaders to the Auckland and Blues sides he played in, there are minor differences that if anything, he favours the red and blacks of today.
"When you look at the eras that we played in there's probably been some inconsistencies in between, whereas I think the Crusaders have been dominant for the last 20 years and it's a real credit to them."