Eight months have passed since Beauden Barrett last laced the boots for a competitive rugby fixture and yet there appears every reason to believe anticipation around his return will match reality.
In many respects, Barrett could not have requested a better scenario to make his Blues debut.
From a Sunday afternoon kickoff against his former team to predictions of a 35,000-strong crowd and the surprise signing of Dan Carter which briefly diverted attention, the scene is set for Barrett to immediately make his mark on the Blues.
Barrett has never been someone overawed by the occasion, and he knows better than anyone former Hurricanes team-mates Dane Coles and TJ Perenara would love nothing more than to trap him at the bottom of a ruck and ruin his first outing for the Blues, following 125 games for the Wellington franchise.
Make no mistake, this match is personal.
"There's a lot of familiar faces in that team that I know very well. It's a game I've played a few times in my head already," Barrett said as younger brother Jordie, the in-form Hurricanes fullback, was seemingly ruled out with a shoulder injury.
"Undoubtedly there will be some cheeky comments – definitely from Colesy in particular. It wouldn't be TJ without some cheeky comments.
"It's more those interpersonal battles that potentially may pop up so I'm preparing myself for that so as it happens I know 'yep' I've ticked that off in my head so it's no surprise. I know it's coming."
Eden Park will be buzzing on Sunday afternoon as locals, and the Barrett's father Kevin, flock to again witness live sport.
Many of those in attendance will come to witness Barrett's maiden outing for the resurgent Blues, a team on the rise under Leon MacDonald after winning five of seven games this season before the coronavirus shutdown halted momentum and forced the reincarnation of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Barrett's return, having played the last of his 83 tests in the All Blacks' third-place victory over Wales at last year's World Cup, has been a long time coming.
In essence this match has been delayed two months, with Barrett's debut in blue originally set for April 11 against the Hurricanes at Eden Park.
That additional break should allow Barrett to not only be in better condition, as his record Bronco fitness test time attests, but also much more in tune with the team structures and game-plans.
Any playmaker attempting to confidently run the cutter needs time to find their feet. In this regard, Barrett has now enjoyed an extra month on the training pitch with his new team – the last week with Carter offering valued feedback. All of which suggests Barrett should be better prepared and more comfortable than he would have been in April.
"It would have been a different introduction to the team pre-Covid and then getting up to speed pretty quick given the previous competition so it has been great to get plenty of reps under my belt and slot in and play some very competitive training scenarios. That's as close as we're going to get to match fitness.
"I'd like to be free-flowing but I know that's probably not realistic. I have very high standards. I know it may not be game one to get up to those standards, but that doesn't mean I won't be trying my best."
Watching their progress earlier this year Barrett observed the Blues played with renewed belief, leadership and work ethic while embracing a balanced understanding of when to kick, pass or run. Barrett's presence should enhance that tactical and attacking nous during the next 10 weeks of intense local derbies.
"Leon is driving a pretty good thing here at the moment so we've got to knuckle down, keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard.
"It's probably going to be survival of the fittest. It's great from a fans' point of view and rugby in New Zealand for the pure fact we're back up and running.
"It's even better that we're playing afternoon rugby. The product should be better for it so let's hope the lungs hang in there and the game is a competitive one."
As for the return of Carter, who is not available for selection in the opening two weeks while he undergoes conditioning work, Barrett can't get enough of the veteran's advice, though he did deliver his own cheeky jibe when referencing the age gap between the 38-year-old former All Black and King's College first five-eighth Zarn Sullivan.
"I haven't told him we've got a young first-five in our team that's half his age.
"It seems like yesterday in 2015 we were rubbing shoulders. The first day back at training he was giving me feedback which was so good to hear. Rather than waiting to hear from a coach a few days later it's instant. The boost he's given to the team and personally it's huge.
"It's so good for the game of rugby. At his age to still play in this competitive competition it's something we can all strive for. We're definitely going to need DC at some point."