Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen has labelled the Waratahs' self-proclaimed underdog status for Saturday's encounter "laughable".
The experienced number eight baulked at suggestions in the media this week from the Sydney camp that the hosts are not firm favourites to overcome an injury-hit ACT outfit.
"I think it's laughable - it's definitely interesting," Mowen told Fairfax. "I think [the Waratahs] are trying to position themselves for obvious reasons. But it doesn't really matter what the status is.
"We lost in Sydney last year and there's a lot more at stake this year, this will be a massive challenge. It's a must win for us - it is for them as well. You want the games at the end of the year to mean a little bit extra ... that's certainly what this game brings."
While the Waratahs top the Australian Conference, and can all-but secure a playoff berth with a win on Saturday, the Brumbies must claim victory in their final two games of the season to overtake their rivals and reach the knockout stages.
That won't be easy with so many top names sidelined - Stephen Moore, Matt Toomua, David Pocock, Joe Tomane, Pat McCabe and Sam Carter are all on the treatment table.
Indeed, such is the extent of the list of casualties that departing prop Ruadhri Murphy - heading back to Ireland and Ulster come August - will fill in for his first-ever competitive game at hooker with Moore and Josh Mann-Rea unavailable.
"Obviously our depth has been challenged, but morale is high and it's as good of a feeling that's been around all year," acknowledged Murphy.
"It's the business end of the year, we know where we need to be. We won't make any excuses. No one is here that doesn't want to play. To be in and out this year ... it's not ideal but I've worked hard to make sure when I've been called I'm ready to go."