What looked at one stage as though it might be a game against a second string Waratahs outfit has now been turned into exactly what Warren Gatland wanted a week out from the first Test - a real contest.
Let's not kid ourselves that Michael Cheika's side will be anywhere near full strength at the Allianz Stadium this weekend. They won't. But instead of being without 16 first choice players, the number has been slashed to a round dozen.
The decisioin by Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans to release some players from his training squad to the Super Rugby franchises playing against Sam Warburton's men may have come a week too late for the Queensland Reds, and two weeks for the Western Force, but it means both the Waratahs this weekend and the Brumbies on Tuesday, will be stronger than expected.
Waratahs skipper and back row man Dave Dennis and centre Rob Horne have been released back to the Sydney side and they will be joined in the home side by outside half Bernard Foley and scrum half Matt Lucas. The latter two were drafted into the Australian squad for the IRB Sevens World Cup in Moscow 10 days ago and looked as though they would have to attend training, rather than face the Lions.
Commonsense thankfully prevailed and the influential duo will be doing their utmost to end the Loins' winning streak. Foley has been an ever-present in the Waratahs starting XV this season, while Lucas has played a part in every game as understudy to regular No 9 Brendan McKibbin.
The influence of Dennis and Foley cannot be underestimated in the Waratahs side and they will give them direction, game management, drive and passion. What the Queensland Reds started in Brisbane, trying to run the Lions off their feet, is likely to be continued in Sydney by a Waratahs team buoyed by their Super Rugby victory last weekend over the Western Force in Perth.
"It's good that the Wallabies have released some players to play against us. It's an opportunity for those players, if they're not going to be selected for the first Test, to have a run against us and perhaps even go back with a bit of information for the Australian side as well - it's great for the players and it's great for us," said Gatland.
"I was impressed with the Waratahs against the Force. Their breakdown is excellent and they are a really good outfit. They are missing a few players, but to go to Perth and win that game would have given them a huge amoung of confidence.
"They had a poor start to the season by their own admission, but they look as though they are getting better as the season has gone along. We don't want to pick up any more knocks or injuries and we have a few players coming back, which is good.
"We've got almost a full complement of forwards, which is great, but the backs have tended to take most of the punishment, probably because of the way we have been playing. We've been moving the ball a lot and playing a heck of a lot of rugby. Some of the metreage that some of our backs have covered, and the amount of work they've done, has taken its toll a little bit."
Even though Gatland claims he still has an open mind about selection for Brisbane, and hasn't picked his shawdow Test team for this weekend's fixture, the fact remains he has picked seven players who played in the Lions Test team four years ago to start. In reuniting Alun Wyn Jones and Paul O'Connell in the second row he is giving them a chance to clincha starting berth once again.
The same can be said for Tom Croft and Jamie Heaslip, who team up with tour skipper Sam Warburton, in another new look back row combination. Mike Phillips and Johnny Sexton will start for the first time at half-back in another likely looking partnership.
New South Wales were the Lions first opponents on Australian soil on 2 June, 1888 at the Association Cricket Ground Robert Seddon, led the Lions to an 18-2 victory with six tries in all, including two from Walter Bumby. Anything along the same lines would be more than acceptable on Saturday as the Lions look to keep their winning run going.