Chris Robshaw insists England have been offered a glorious opportunity to "defy the odds" and stun New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday.
A heavy defeat has been scripted for Stuart Lancaster's 8/1 underdogs, who enter the first Test without any players from Aviva Premiership finalists Northampton and Saracens.
In addition, British and Irish Lions Tom Croft, Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole and Mako Vunipola have been lost to injury or the need to recuperate over the summer.
With their playing resources substantially weakened, England must man the barricades at a venue where the All Blacks - who are chasing a 15th successive victory - have won every match they have contested for 20 years.
"The odds seem to be stacked against any team that comes to New Zealand, if you look at previous series over the years," said Robshaw, England's captain.
"But, in saying that, there's a huge opportunity for us, a huge opportunity for a team to go out there and defy those odds.
"A Test victory in New Zealand would probably rank as the number one achievement for us. In the whole of English rugby history it's been done twice.
"It's definitely, probably, going to be the hardest thing we've done. This is where we'll find out what we're about."
England finished runners-up to Ireland in this year's RBS 6 Nations, yet ultimately only missed out on the Grand Slam because of a late defeat to France.
The most pleasing aspect of their championship was the emergence of a high-tempo game plan that Robshaw knows will face the toughest possible test over three games against the world champions.
"We're extremely proud of our squad at the moment, the team we have and the progress we've made during the Six Nations," the Harlequins openside said.
"This, we feel, is the next test for us, it has come at a good stage and we're looking forward to going out there.
"We've been building for the last couple of years and this is a very significant marker of how far we've come that will let us know how far on that development curve we are.
"Are we as far as we think we are? Do we need a bit more to go? Are we potentially ahead of schedule?
"Only time will tell. Hopefully in three games' time we'll know a bit more and be in the right place."
A 2-1 series defeat would be an acceptable outcome from the final tour before next year's World Cup, but Robshaw insists England's ambition must be higher.
"Our aim has to be to come here and win the series," he said.
"That said, it's easy for me to sit here behind a desk and say that, we've got to go out there on the pitch, we've got to go out there and prove ourselves.
"We need to make sure we get our details spot-on, both on and off the pitch, and most importantly we must execute under pressure in a Test environment that is one of the most hostile places to play rugby.
"This is the place and the team you want to test yourself against."