It was the Lions tour that simply needed to succeed.
The 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa was about more than winning or losing a Test series.
It was about restoring pride in a jersey that had, frankly, been dragged through the mud four years previously in New Zealand.
Thankfully, it did - with the brutal, controversial series doing plenty to revive the reputation of the touring side, even in a losing cause.
With Sky Sports showing the Test series and the behind the scenes documentary on Wednesday night, we decided to look back on that remarkable tour of South Africa 12 years ago...
PIZZA ON THE CEILING AND A FALSE START
After the convoluted mess of 2005, this was a stripped back tour that more closely resembled the 1997 triumph against the Springboks.
No Alistair Campbell. No bloated squads or coaching tickets. No Power of Four.
Instead, it was more simplistic - with coach Sir Ian McGeechan keen to push the ethos of what the Lions means.
Everything just felt less prescribed than the previous tour, when the Test team and the dirt-trackers were virtually carved in stone before the plane even left for New Zealand.
There were also characters which just added to the charm that the Lions still holds. For John Bentley in 1997, read Andy Powell in 2009 - the bright, bubbly character keeping the tourists entertained as one of Powell's room-mates, Ireland international Luke Fitzgerald, would attest
"I actually stayed in touch with Powelly afterwards and he is such a nice bloke," Fitzgerald began.
"Great fun. He was the life and soul of the party. He was a great part of the tour even though he didn't play in the tests.
"I had a big match ahead of the tests and I get woken up at about 4am. He knew he was out of the running. Lights go on, I ask him to turn off the lights because I was trying to sleep.
"In the morning I look up and there was a pizza on the ceiling. There was a pizza on the ceiling!"
However, this tour, and what it would do for the future of the Lions, would only ever be judged on how the Test series against the world champions went.
And it's something of an understatement to say that it didn't get off to the best of starts.
At the 50 minute mark of the first Test, the Lions found themselves 26-7 down. Hardly ideal.
England prop Phil Vickery was suffering more than most, coming off second best to the Beast, Tendai Mtawarira. It wasn't pretty to watch as the young South African, in only his 11th Test, popped the World Cup winner like a champagne cork over and over again.
"You know you have had a bad game when your mum, your missus and your sister all text you to say they still love you," Vickery later quipped.
Eventually, the cavalry arrived in the shape of Welsh front-row replacements Adam Jones and Matthew Rees to steady the ship and give the Lions a fighting chance.
Mike Phillips in particular took the fight to the Springboks, leading a late comeback that ultimately fell short.
There were chances to win it, with England winger Ugo Monye - who had done wonders to start ahead of the 2008 World Player of the Year, Shane Williams - twice being denied tries when virtually over the line, while Phillips also had the ball knocked from his grasp when in search of a crucial score.
At the end of the titanic clash in Durban, the players were emotionally and physically drained. South Africa were the victors, but there were positives to take for the tourists.
HIGH STAKES AND A SICKENING MOMENT
As a result of the first Test defeat, the stakes were high.
The Lions knew they needed to win to avoid another series defeat, but they had at least rectified some of the issues - such as the scrum.
But if they were under any illusions of the daunting task they were facing, the welcome they received on the way to Loftus Versfeld left no doubts.
“The fans park their cars on the road leading up to the stadium and set up their braais (barbecues) alongside them. It’s like a more aggressive, testosterone-fuelled version of the Twickenham car park," wrote Wales prop Jones in his autobiography, Bomb.
“The South African fans appeared to be waving as our bus approached, but as we got closer we realised they were all doing the ’w****r’ sign.
“If we had been outside, I’m sure they’d have happily ripped our heads off.”
On further reflection, that treatment might have been preferable to what unfolded on the pitch.
It was one of the most brutal, physical, unforgiving Test matches in the history of the sport and it only took a matter of seconds for the touchpaper to be lit.
Boks flanker Schalk Burger gouged the right eye of Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald in a sickening incident just 30 seconds in but, despite it being shown in graphic detail on the big screen at the ground, the Springbok flanker only sat out 10 minutes of the match.
Scrum-half Phillips later blasted the act, saying: “Luke said he had to pull Burger’s hand off his eyes. That’s not sport, that’s not the way we play. It is not the gentlemanly thing to do – it’s disgusting.
“Burger should have had a clear red card, as simple as that. You can’t do things like that.”
Fitzgerald himself was amazed a red card wasn't brandished.
The situation would be worsened by South Africa coach Peter de Villiers, whose take on the incident was the equivalent of pouring water on a chip pan fire.
"I don’t think it should have been a card at all. This is sport, this is what it is all about," remarked de Villiers, who would later claim they were playing rugby, not ballet.
Brian O'Driscoll would later call those words 'despicable'. However, things weren't done there.
DROPPING LIKE FLIES AND ONE LAST TWIST
Beyond the gouging incident, the Lions started well - determined to write the wrongs of the previous week.
A Rob Kearney try and the boot of Stephen Jones quickly put them 10-0 up. At the break, they led 16-8.
However, the issues were already mounting up for the tourists.
First, Gethin Jenkins clashed heads with O'Driscoll midway through the first-half. The end result for the Welsh prop was a fractured cheekbone that required a plastic plate inserted in it. One man down, but he wouldn't be the last.
Next to join him in hospital would be Jones, taken out of the game minutes before half-time thanks to a clearout from Bakkies Botha which again would spark consequences that would rumble on far beyond the final whistle.
“I was bent over at ruck, trying to seal the ball off when he appeared from nowhere and smoked me,” said Jones.
“The pain was acute and excruciating. My shoulder was smashed out of its socket, and my right arm was locked outwards in a strange saluting position.”
Botha was cited and given a two-week ban for an illegal charge on Jones. The Springbok reaction was to wear 'Justice 4 Bakkies' armbands in the third Test, as they insisted they were the victims.
For his part, Jones was very forgiving, later saying Botha would have “intended to hurt him because he played the game that way” but ultimately being unconvinced it was deliberate foul play.
It did, however, rob the Lions of their two first-choice props, resulting in uncontested scrums - something that only benefited the home side.
Centre partnership Jamie Roberts and O'Driscoll, the revelation of the tour, would also be forced off injured, as the Boks fought back.
By the end of the match, the Lions were pairing Stephen Jones and Tommy Bowe in midfield, as the hosts piled on the pressure.
A controversial Jaques Fourie try put the Boks ahead late on, before Jones pulled the Lions level.
As the clock ticked to the red, there was still time for one late, cruel twist.
Ronan O'Gara, on at fly-half, fielded the ball in his own 22. The calls from Shaun Edwards to 'kick it out' on the touchline are forever immortalised in the documentary.
A draw would have kept the series alive, but O'Gara instead opted for an up-and-under. Unfortunately, it was a little tired and a little misjudged, as was his effort to regather the high ball.
The sight of a weary, battle-worn O'Gara, head wrapped in white bandage, taking Fourie du Preez out in the air, is one etched into the history of the Lions now. The moment that settled this monumental Test series.
Morne Steyn would knock over the resulting penalty, securing a unassailable 2-0 series lead and consigning the Lions to the unfathomable torture of a heart-wrenching near-miss.
For O'Gara, that pain was worse than most.
"That one was horrendous," he wrote in an Irish Examiner column recently. "Paulie (O'Connell) had my back — as captain, he made that a great group of Lions team-mates — but I was in a daze walking from the dressing room to the team bus and it had little to do with being run over by a Springbok back row.
"I knew sitting into my seat that the longest week of my career lay ahead. I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. Horrendous stuff.
"The players were supportive but that’s why you have your own standards. It’s you against you. You let yourself down. With the stakes involved in a Lions test, the disappointment was crippling."
PRIDE AT LAST
Despite that heartbreak, the Lions would finish on a high.
A 28-9 victory was no less than they deserved - an exercise in catharsis as much as anything else.
Shane Williams, a man perhaps a little frustrated not to have played a bigger role in the Tests, crossed for a brace.
There was also deserved redemption for Monye after his first Test near-misses, racing away for an interception score.
Above all, it completed the secondary mission for the tourists in South Africa - to put pride back in the jersey.
The series may have finished 2-1 to the hosts, but the Lions righted wrongs, were embraced by the South African public and came so close to victory playing an attacking brand of rugby that was attractive to watch.
Undoubtedly, they left the famous jersey in a better state than they found it.