First five-eighths Beauden Barrett said, compared to their unbeaten run of last season heading into the playoffs, the road had been much rockier this year as they finished in the third qualifying position.
"We've had more adversity than we had this time last year, so it's probably a good thing."
Barrett said they had learned some lessons from last year's final, so they should be in a better spot.
"From a squad point of view, you've got the All Blacks rests, injuries, bye weeks, so many disruptions. Every team has had their share of setbacks and challenges. We're almost at full strength and that's a great place to be."
Lock Patrick Tuipulotu (broken arm) and wing Caleb Clarke (quad haematoma) are the latest injuries the side has experienced.
Barrett said the Blues were realistic that it could be their last game together if they didn't perform to their expectations.
"But that's not our mentality. We're taking it as an opportunity to get excited.
"It's knockout footy. We're pumped to be at home for potentially our last game of the season at Eden Park. The Waratahs can be dangerous if we allow them to be, but we've got a plan to nullify them.
"It's doing the basic things well. It's nothing we don't know or have in our repertoire. It's finding a little bit of cohesion. The belief is there. We've got three games to find it. Hopefully, we can build nicely.
"There's a sense of underperforming this season, so hopefully, we're leaving it for the right end of the season."
Barrett was relieved to learn the errant sprig that required 20 stitches in his heel had missed cutting his Achilles tendon.
"I was pretty lucky. It was deep, but not deep enough to get the tendon. It was a good gash."
He said he was told that it could take some time to heal.
"It has a fair amount of stitches in there. The concern was about pushing the range and popping the stitches if my eagerness took over. But I was patient and trusted what the doctors said, so here I am, available for the quarterfinals.
"I'm fresh, and I've got a spring in my step. It's quarterfinal week so everything is on the line."
QUARTERFINAL: Blues v NSW Waratahs, Friday 9 June, 7.35pm, Eden Park, Auckland. TICKETS.