Some feared that if the Lions failed to record a series victory in Australia on their 125th anniversary tour the barren spell could easily be extended for another 12 years through tours of New Zealand in 2017 and South Africa in 2021.
The Lions are an anomaly in the modern professional game and, the theory ran, if the lack of success continued, sponsors would walk away and the lure of the famous red shirt would start to fade for the players.
Set against that was the clear passion for the concept from the likes of four-times tourist Brian O'Driscoll and the upwards of 30,000 fans from Britain and Ireland who painted a succession of Australian cities red in more ways than one.
In the end though, the brilliant display of power and pace the Lions delivered to seal the series with a 41-16 win on Saturday night showed Northern Hemisphere rugby was in good health and such questions were academic.
"This is fantastic for rugby going forward," coach Warren Gatland said. "It's great for the Lions, and I think it creates an interest and excitement for the future for the Lions tours.
"For us the whole focus on this tour was about delivering a test series win. Our whole primary objective was to come here and win. We're really pleased that we've done that."
It was not a tour without problems, though, from the weakness of early opponents through a mid-tour injury crisis to the fallout over team selection for the third test.
Gatland believes there must be changes if the Lions are to have a chance of success in his home country of New Zealand in four years' time, particularly in terms of the amount of preparation time the squad is allowed.
The current deal with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa runs out after the 2017 tour and it looks unlikely that much will change until then.
Tour captain Sam Warburton, who sat out the final test with a hamstring injury, believes the triumph proves that the best of the Northern Hemisphere could overcome the best of the South.
"Whoever's going to be involved in four years' time, for some players it might have given them more optimism," he said.
Barring injury, the party to New Zealand will include the Welsh flanker, whose one-man tackling exhibition in the second test defeat in Melbourne was one of the performances of the tour.
Fullback Leigh Halfpenny, whose 49 points in the test series and 21 in the third test were both records for the Lions, should also be on the plane in four years' time.
The near flawless place-kicking from the Player of the Series ensured the hulking Lions forwards could be sure that any penalties they won at the breakdown or set piece would almost always always be rewarded.
That was a key factor in the first two tests and was integral for building the momentum that exploded with a flurry of second-half tries in the third.
The Australians played a full part in the tour, even if defeat looks to have sealed the fate of coach Robbie Deans.
The challenge provided by the Quade Cooper-inspired Queensland Reds and a physical clash with the New South Wales Waratahs were hugely entertaining, while the ACT Brumbies' victory over a hastily assembled second string Lions side was a first for a provincial side since 1971.
Winger Israel Folau's two tries on debut in the first test in Brisbane will live long in the memory, even if his opposite number George North's reply was equally spectacular and set up the 23-21 win for the tourists.
The first and second tests lacked nothing in drama.
Kurtley Beale slipped and missed what would have been a match-winning kick in Brisbane and Halfpenny spurned a similar chance that allowed the Wallabies to even up the series with a 16-15 win in Melbourne.
That the third test was ultimately a thrashing, depriving George Smith of a stunning fairytale swan-song in his 111th test, was testament to the preparatory work done off the park by Gatland and his team.
"There was calmness about us last night but a real focus. As the game went on we got stronger and stronger," Gatland said.
"Some of the players during the tour felt they were in the best shape physically they've ever been in their life and that was at the end of a very long season.
"For us that was a vindication that we were getting things right off the field."
Some 389,400 fans streamed into the stadiums for the nine matches in Australia, voting for the Lions concept with their cash and digging the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) out of a big financial hole.
If you were looking for a ringing endorsement of the relevence of the Lions concept in 2013, however, you needed to look no further than Australia's world class scrumhalf Will Genia.
"I'll never forget it. Living and breathing it now, while we're in the moment, I feel so lucky, so blessed, so privileged to be part of it," he told reporters on the eve of the final test.
"Just the atmosphere, the passion, the intensity the Lions tour brings to Australia is incredible, so it's something I will look back on and I'll remember with fond memories regardless of what happens at the weekend. I've loved every second of it."
- Sports & Recreation
- Warren Gatland