VANCOUVER -- Both sides are coming off a loss and battling injuries.
Yet the Winnipeg Blue Bombers can still use tonight's encounter to see how they stack up against the best when they take on the reigning Grey Cup champions at B.C. Place Stadium tonight.
Despite their first loss of the season last week, the Lions are in top spot in the West with a 5-1 record, the best in the CFL thus far. Before last night's game between Montreal and Calgary, Winnipeg was in first place in the East with a 3-2-1 log.
NOT PERFECT YET
"That's going to be a big game, because if we can win that one, that will be good for our mental (state), knowing that we can beat the best team in the league," Bombers offensive tackle Alexandre Gauthier said on the eve of tonight's match.
"We've done some great things so far but we know we need to keep building on them because we're not perfect yet. We're far from there, so we just need to keep building on every week."
Bombers quarterback Kevin Glenn conceded it can be a litmus test of sorts.
"It is a good measuring stick just because B.C. is a good team," he said. "Every game is a test because you never know what's going to happen. It is No. 1 versus No. 1, East-West. But we're just looking at it as the next game ... I wouldn't say it's our toughest test but anything can happen."
Such approaches are nothing new for the Leos this year.
"Just about every team says that coming in," said B.C. linebacker Javy Glatt. "When teams come to play us, they're looking to see where they're at because we're the measuring stick for the last year and early on this year.
"We know most teams are going to give us their best effort. They're going to make sure they're up to play against us. We need to use that and play every game like it's our last."
Not every Bomber viewed the contest as dramatically.
"The measuring stick comes when you hit the playoffs," said linebacker Barrin Simpson. "Can you get to the Cup? No regular-season game is a measuring stick for the Grey Cup."
But surely beating the reigning champs would give the Bombers a boost of confidence.
"It would just mean another win and we'd be getting closer to clinching the Eastern division championship," Simpson responded.
B.C. will start backup quarterback Buck Pierce though he's still bothered by nagging injuries.
The Bombers are also determined to rebound from last week's loss.
"You don't want to get on a losing streak," Gauthier said. "We need to get back on a winning side, so that will be a good one. It will be tough on the road but we're ready and we look forward to the game."
Fellow offensive tackle Dan Goodspeed concurred.
"Obviously, you get hungry," he said. "When you take a loss, the next game's the important game and now, it's a good challenge. They're No. 1 in the West and right now, we're still No. 1 in the East. It should be a good game. They lost last week and we lost.
"But I don't know if it's a measuring stick ... The best way to measure is at the end of the year, isn't it?"
The Bombers, it seems, have already earned the respect of Lions head coach/GM Wally Buono.
"I don't know if they're the surprise of the league but I know they're one of the better teams in the league," he said. "Like us, they've had some injuries, especially on defence. But our understanding is that a lot of their players will be back so it should be a very entertaining game."