Chiefs assistant coach Wayne Smith dismissed the notion that the two-time champions are a team on the decline.
In fact he suggested it is the competitiveness of the New Zealand conference that resulted in the defending champions' slide on the Super Rugby rankings.
The Chiefs, from chasing an unprecedented hat-trick of Super Rugby titles, are now ninth overall on the global standings and desperately clinging to a fast fading dream of just making the play-offs.
Also bottom of the New Zealand conference, the Chiefs could see their title defence end in dramatic fashion in Hamilton on Friday - when they take on a vastly-improved Hurricanes side.
Add to that the humiliating 8-45 loss the Chiefs suffered to the Canes back in May and the men from Hamilton face an uphill battle.
Smith said the fact that the Chiefs lost four of their last six games underlines the strength of the game in New Zealand, and does not reflect badly ion the Chiefs.
"You drop slightly and other teams raise their game and you get the results we have had," Smith told New Zealand media.
"Again at the weekend we could have won that game," he said of the 25-29 loss to the Highlanders last Friday.
"We needed to win it, but we didn't quite have it in us in the end."
The set-piece has also let them down, but Smith was at a loss to explain the general slip in standards.
"Outcome is always a complex thing and it's hard to put your finger on any one thing, but what I do know is that it can turn around really quickly," Smith said.
"I've been in a Crusaders team that did that. Don't know why it turned around but it did and went from being hopeless to being unbeatable in a short space of time so I know it's only going to take one good result and we'll be back on the horse - but it's getting pretty late in the season."