A demolition at the hands of the Crusaders early in the season was the wake-up call the Chiefs needed as they now sit on the verge of qualifying for the Super Rugby Aotearoa final.
In the second round of the competition, the Chiefs were sent packing from Christchurch with a 39-17 defeat; being outscored five tries to two.
While it was the latest in a long run of losses at that point, Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan said it proved to be what sparked the team's impressive return to relevance.
"When we got absolutely destroyed down in Christchurch, that wasn't a happy memory for any of us and was really the catalyst for us to work really hard in that space," he said.
"[Scrum coach] Nic White and those guys up front deserve everything they're getting because they're putting a massive amount of work in and it's becoming a strength. But it's not just the starting guys, it's the guys that are coming off the bench that are giving us some reward there too.
"There are some guys that have got a few runs on the board and have played in the black jersey, and I'm hoping those performances are nudging themselves forward again."
Since that loss to the Crusaders in mid-March, the Chiefs have won five straight games. While none have been particularly impressive victories, their ability to stay in the fight and grind it out late has become their calling card in 2021.
Of their five wins, four have been by a margin of three points of fewer, while the other was a six-point triumph.
On Friday night, their 26-24 win over the Hurricanes in Hamilton put them one step closer to the final in two weeks, though it took a last-minute penalty goal from Damian McKenzie to get them there.
"It's not getting any easier on the old heart rate," McMillan admitted, "but you can't question the resilience and the fight in the boys; they keep going.
"You train hard every week, analyse the opposition and try do everything you can to give yourself an opportunity to win the game and we've been doing that.
"But momentum and confidence and the bounce of the ball, it goes in roundabouts. We had a horrid run last year, and this year it's all going our way. But I'm loath to say it's luck because, I reckon, we've created the opportunity to win games."
The Chiefs will be watching this afternoon's clash between the Blues and Crusaders in Christchurch with great interest, as the Chiefs can seal their spot in the final if the Blues come away with no competition points from the encounter. If the Blues win, or score a bonus point, the race for the final spot will depend on the result of the showdown between the Chiefs and Blues in Auckland in their final round robin game next weekend.
"We'll cheer on the Crusaders because that probably makes our life a little bit easier, but I've said it week in and week out, our job is just the next game in front of us and we're unlikely to change that," McMillan said.
"If we get the opportunity to know we're in the final, it might force our thinking around some selections, but I wouldn't put it past the Blues. They're a quality side, they'll be desperate and we saw out there [against the Hurricanes] what that can bring to a team. I'll just be an interested spectator then get to work figuring out how we're going to win the next game."