Three starting changes and recent memories of their most torrid test of the season form the backdrop for the Blues' high-stakes home semifinal at Eden Park.
A feature of the Blues this year is their ability to slot in the next cab off the rank without causing major disruptions. Even their second-string team managed to defeat the Waratahs in Sydney.
That squad depth sets the backbone of the Blues' franchise record 14-match unbeaten run.
Three changes sounds rather bold for a semifinal against a formidable foe but when you consider swapping one All Blacks prop for another – Nepo Laulala for Ofa Tuungafasi after he was upstaged by Ethan de Groot last week – AJ Lam on the left wing following Bryce Heem's head knock, and promoting Josh Goodhue to start at lock, there is logic or necessity behind each move.
The only selection quirk involves including four locks, with depth in the loose forwards compromised by the absence of captain Dalton Papalii and Anton Segner.
This week the Blues had players speak at team meetings about their love of the game, and how much the prospect of Saturday's semifinal means to the team and their families.
Last year's skipper Patrick Tuipulotu, along with fellow lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti and long-serving midfielder TJ Faiane, have rejoined the team from Japan to further boost spirits.
"They're all pretty proud of what the club has achieved so far and they're really supportive," Blues forwards coach Tom Coventry said. "We're trying to draw on the strength they bring."
That feel-good factor will soon dissolve, though, if the Blues don't account for the Brumbies.
The Blues don't have to dig deep into the archives to reference the stern test the Brumbies will pose. Three weeks ago in Canberra, the Blues needed a late Papalii steal and injury-time Beauden Barrett drop goal to sneak their 21-19 victory.
In that tense contest the Brumbies succeeded in targeting the breakdown to slow the Blues' ruck speed, and mounted a comeback through their vaunted rolling maul. When pressured close to their line, though, the Brumbies resorted to repeat, cynical infringing that cost them two yellow cards.
Coventry is expecting a similar challenge.
"They were up for it," Coventry recalled. "They were playing as close to the law as they could to keep themselves in the game. Physicality at the breakdown is what most teams crave and they were after that. They played on the edge, and they got penalised for it. This week I'm sure they would've talked about their discipline and I'm sure they'll be better there.
"We had three guys held up over the line so we were responsible for not finishing off as well. We'll start from scratch again.
"They were bloody good last time we played them. It came down to a drop goal and they had the upper edge on us at times. I know they're pretty confident with the way they played against us so it's a big challenge for us.
"We respect them deeply. They're a great side and they've been the benchmark for Australian sides for a while now. We're going to have to be at our very best. We weren't last time."
With rain forecast, which will suit the Brumbies' squeezing style, discipline, forward ascendancy and tactical kicking - that pits Beauden Barrett, Stephen Perofeta and Finlay Christie against Wallabies playmakers Nic White and Noah Lolesio - will be pivotal to deciding the outcome.
Should the Blues progress to the final, Papalii and Caleb Clarke, the latter out with a hamstring issue, are a chance to return.
"Dalton had his appendix out. It'd be touch and go to get him ready next week. There's always a bit of hope. Finlay [Christie] had his appendix out and said he did it in 10 days so Dalton is under a bit of pressure but we'll just take it day by day - I know he's a little bit sore still."
With standout No 8 Rob Valentini returning for the Brumbies, next week is far from a given for the Blues.
Blues v Brumbies
Saturday, 7.05pm, Auckland
Blues: Stephen Perofeta, AJ Lam, Rieko Ioane, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Mark Telea, Beauden Barrett (c), Finlay Christie, Hoskins Sotutu, Adrian Choat, Akira Ioane, Tom Robinson, Josh Goodhue, Nepo Laulala, Kurt Eklund, Alex Hodgman.
Reserves: Soane Vikena, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Luke Romano, James Tucker, Sam Nock, Tamati Tua, Zarn Sullivan.
Brumbies: Tom Banks, Tom Wright, Ollie Sapsford, Irae Simone, Andy Muirhead, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Pete Samu, Tom Hooper, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Folau Fainga'a, James Slipper.
Reserves: Lachlan Lonergan, Scott Sio, Sefo Kautai, Nick Frost, Luke Reimer, Jahrome Brown, Ryan Lonergan, Hudson Creighton.