As they stand on the verge of reaching their first Super Rugby final in almost two decades, the Blues have identified specific improvements that continue to inspire the transformation of their underwhelming Aotearoa campaign.
The Blues are taking no chances, nothing for granted, after making three changes to their starting team to play the Western Force at Eden Park on Saturday.
Following the theme of consistent selections throughout their transtasman revival, all three changes come in the forward pack where Hoskins Sotutu and Akira Ioane rotate at No 8 and Nepo Laulala and Alex Hodgman are promoted to starting propping duties, with Ofa Tu'ungafasi given the week off to rest his knee injury.
"It's not a reflection on his form but more how we want to finish the game and what he brings off the bench," Blues forwards coach Tom Coventry said of Ioane after he started at No 8 in Brisbane last week. "He's covering three positions at the moment and doing a great job of it."
While Coventry wasn't keen on discussing permutations surrounding his side's quest to host a home final next week – a bonus point victory over the Force will guarantee that scenario - he was more forthcoming on how the team has made the most of their second chance this season.
Clearly the weaker level of opposition has helped improve results but so, too, have subtle tweaks to the Blues game plan inspired significant shifts.
The first change has come with the Blues attack.
Rather than persisting with attacking from inside their own half, the Blues have instead favoured a territory-based game plan that involves backing their defence and pressuring opposition into mistakes.
Zarn Sullivan's inclusion at fullback - after debuting in the final round of the Aotearoa competition - for every transtasman match has played a major role in this tactic, with the 20-year-old's educated left boot often exploiting space in the backfield to add valuable support for Otere Black in driving the Blues to the right areas.
Kicking more regularly also decreases the load the mammoth Blues forward pack – compared to South Africans by the Highlanders earlier this year – must shoulder in making hard-fought metres from their own end.
"We might have worn our big boys out in the middle of the field during the Aotearoa competition," Coventry said. "This round we've been a little bit more succinct around where we play our footy, a bit cleverer about field position and territory versus hanging onto the ball."
The second tweak is at the breakdown. During the Aotearoa competition the Blues discipline in this area proved a major handbrake as they grappled to come to grips with the law interpretation subtitles. Improvements here can be seen in Dalton Papalii's prominence, and Tom Robinson's relentless defensive work.
"I don't think we got that right so well in the first competition. We got penalised for not rolling away and our work at the breakdown was a bit sloppy and we incurred the wrath of the referee a bit so we've been better there and our penalty count shows we've got some improvement in that area," Coventry said.
Despite the Blues approaching their fifth successive match, Coventry is confident the buoyant mood in camp will ward off any lingering fatigue. There was no thought given to resting Rieko Ioane, who has started every match at centre for the Blues.
Other influential All Blacks such as Aaron Smith, Richie Mo'unga and Sam Whitelock have been spelled by the Highlanders and Crusaders but Ioane and Jordie Barrett at the Hurricanes continue to play each week.
"We talk pretty closely with the All Blacks around load and try give guys opportunities to rest. Sometimes it's not playing 80 minutes, that helps, but it's an individual thing. Some athletes need to play more than others and that's apparent with some of the guys in our team.
"We've had the luxury with our props we've been able to give rests but this time of year it's about working towards the bigger picture. I think we've met most of the minute expectations from the All Blacks point of view."
Two weeks ago in Napier the Hurricanes humbled the Force 43-6 and the Western Australians are yet to win a game against Kiwi opposition yet the Blues remain on edge after the visitors denied the Crusaders a bonus point with a try at the death last week.
Should the Blues reach the final, Coventry ruled out the prospect of Beauden Barrett emerging from quarantine to re-join the team's push for silverware.
"He's been in touch with Leon but I haven't had much to do with Beauden but he's back. I'm sure he'll be supporting from the sidelines.
"To be honest it hasn't been a consideration. We've got faith in the boys here they're doing a marvellous job and Beauden coming in at the 11th hour is not probably what we're after."
Blues team: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Mark Telea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu (C), 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1. Alex Hodgman.
Reserves: 16 Ray Niuia, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 AJ Lam.