Inexperienced. Out of their depth. The Chiefs' forward pack was supposed to be steamrollered this year.
Their flashy backs wouldn't get enough ball to survive. And that was before two key front-rowers, Ben Afeaki and Toby Smith, went down in the first match.
"I know a lot of people were saying that but we had a lot of belief in our camp that we had a pack to compete," coach Dave Rennie quipped.
"That was one place we were written off," fullback Robbie Robinson added. "They've been unreal."
Credit must go to forwards guru Tom Coventry. His hard-grafting workmen have defied the sceptics to overpower their more illustrious opponents and lay an impeccable platform built on go-forward passion and ferocious commitment.
Both the Blues and Crusaders' test-hardened engine rooms were expected to run amok but were sent home, tail between legs. Dominating the red and blacks big-men is not to be scoffed at.
"It doesn't happen every day," co-captain Liam Messam said.
Hands up who could pick rookie 138kg prop Ben Tameifuna, who collected Magpies team-mate Zac Guildford with a lethal shoulder, or two-metre lock Brodie Retallick out of a lineup before this season. Didn't think so.
The two 20-year-old prospects were standouts against the Crusaders, epitomising this overachieving outfit that's knocked over New Zealand's two previously favoured teams to underline their giant-killing intentions. "A couple of those young guys might have got their opportunity a bit earlier than we thought but they're really fronting," Rennie said.
The adage that respect is hard earned and easily lost resonates through the team. Rennie's men were dirty with themselves for blowing victory over the Highlanders first-up. And they're not about to get carried away after two wins. Their focus quickly shifted to rolling Jake White's Brumbies in Tauranga next week. But they have certainly put rivals on notice.
"Quietly in our changing room we have the belief and ability in our team," Messam said. "People outside that shed might not think so but we know what we can achieve."
The Chiefs are not the complete package, but it will take a classy side to cut open a defence that's causing some damage.
"You don't see too many teams making line breaks against us," Robinson said.
There was an edge to Sonny Bill Williams' efforts against his former team. He frequently broke the line and carried with purpose. His partnership with Richard Kahui is blossoming, nicely. Watch the midfield duo cause havoc.Two out of three is a quality start. Budding belief is a powerful concept. Meanwhile, the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union hopes to again pocket close to $70,000 for hosting the Crusaders.