The Blues heard the talk they were taking a B team to face the Waratahs in Sydney.
After Zarn Sullivan slotted a match-winning drop goal to set a franchise winning record, however, they headed home having showed the reasons for their favouritism extend well beyond the first XV.
Despite sending out a starting team featuring 14 changes from the win over the Brumbies that last weekend secured top spot in Super Rugby, the Blues overcome a couple of yellow cards and a 14-3 deficit to win their 13th straight game.
Luke Romano, captaining the team for the first time, said the second stringers were motivated to defy the pre-match talk and showcase their level of depth in the squad.
"Super Rugby is such a tough competition and you really have to rely on the whole squad," Romano told Stan Sport. "There was a lot of talk about bringing a B team over, but that's not how we looked at it.
"These boys put in the same amount of work as everyone else. And they got their opportunity and the took it, so it's really pleasing.
"It doesn't matter who you are in the squad, 1-38, everyone backs each other. The 'Tahs are an awesome team but to be able to stack win upon win, the boys just don't give up and they find a way to win."
Like last week against the Brumbies, the route to victory was filled with drama, as Sullivan followed Beauden Barrett's lead in deciding the match with his boot.
The 21-year-old shrugged off his heroics and paid tribute to Romano's leadership, helping the Blues overcome some adversity of their own making.
"We practise these moments in training - It just comes down to repetition and just being in the moment," Sullivan said of his drop goal.
"Luke's got a very experienced head on him and all we had to do is listen to him. Because when we listen we do basics right.
"I know our discipline kind of bit us on our ass there, but we just had to listen to our leaders and keep our composure."
That quality is one Sullivan thought had been enhanced by the nature of this Covid-disrupted season, meaning every member of the squad was always prepared to contribute.
"Covid has put us all on the front foot, making sure we're always ready," he said. "This team's always been ready - at training putting the big boys under pressure. So it's just building that confidence for these young fellas to come out here and perform."
The excitement of the young group was evident when Romano's post-match interview was interrupted by cheering teammates, and the Blues certainly have plenty to feel good about.
The heavy hitters will return to the team for this weekend's home quarter-final against the Highlanders, refreshed by the rest, buoyed by their display of depth and ready to complete the job.
"That's something awesome to have heading into the playoffs," Romano said. "To finish top and have 13 wins is awesome, but the season's not finished.
"It would be absolutely devastating to undo all this hard work in the first round of the finals. We'll celebrate this and enjoy the victory, but head back to Auckland and concentrate on our first final."
Friday, 7.05pm, Christchurch: Crusaders v Reds
Saturday, 4.35pm, Hamilton: Chiefs v Waratahs
Saturday, 7.05pm, Auckland: Blues v Highlanders
Saturday, 9.45pm, Canberra: Brumbies v Hurricanes