Written off before they had even set foot in the Republic, McGeechan's men were deemed nothing more than cannon fodder for the world champion Springboks.
Ask any South African and the answer was the same: the Lions would be too small and too weak; too unskilled and ill-disciplined to trouble their beloved Boks. The series was already won, the 3-0 margin already confirmed. All that was left was for the Boks to put on a show.
Queue the Test series. Queue two incredible and unexpected Lions victories. Queue British and Irish celebrations and a South African inquest.
"Has any team ever been so underrated?" Lions legend Willie-John McBride wrote in the August 1997 edition of Rugby World.
"When the '97 Lions left for South Africa the odds were 5-1 on them losing every Test. But by the time the final game came around they had the whole series sewn up. They had lost just one match on the tour and they were losing the Test series 2-0.
"Planet Earth had tilted on its axis - the old order had changed - we had overrated the world champions and underrated the northern hemisphere."
Having lost the first Test of the 2009 series, the current crop of Lions know they face an even tougher task than their predecessors from 12 years ago. Each and every one of the major bookmakers has the Springboks as odds on favourites to put the series beyond the tourists this Saturday as logic seemingly points towards another South African victory.
But for McGeechan and co, the odds will go out the window. The Lions showed enough promise last weekend to suggest that a series victory is a distinct possibility. All that is left now is to make the critics eat their words; the pessimists reconsider their approach; and the bookies to stick their odds where the proverbial sun don't shine.