Tokyo - All Blacks captain Richie McCaw warned on Friday fast-paced Japan could produce a surprise in their Test at the weekend, as they did in their upset of Wales earlier this year.
"It's pretty key we have a performance that's as good as, if not better than, where we've been," the 32-year-old said on the eve of New Zealand's first-ever Test against the Brave Blossoms on Japanese soil.
"We can't afford, just because we've got a few changes, to let our standards drop."
"It's a different challenge playing the Japanese. But I'm sure the pace of the game will be up, but we've got to be careful that we don't get frantic with it."
Asian champions Japan beat a second-string Wales 23-8 at home in June after just losing out 22-18 in an earlier match.
It was Japan's first-ever victory over a major rugby nation in nearly 80 years of international competition.
"I'm sure that they have gained a lot of confidence out of the two Tests they played against Wales," said the 120-cap veteran.
"And all of a sudden, you start believing in what you can do," the open-side flank said.
"There is no doubt they've got some ability to play," he said. "They frustrated the Welsh. They put them under pressure. They had quickness in their game."
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made 14 changes to his starting line-up from the 41-33 Bledisloe Cup victory over Australia on October 19, in a bid to give experience to lesser-capped players.
McCaw and ace flyhalf Dan Carter, both back from recent injury spells, are included in the starting XV against Japan ahead of the world champions' ensuing European tour, where they will take on France, England and Ireland.
McCaw will be placed at number eight to give understudy Sam Cane game time in his usual position.
"I'm quite excited," said McCaw, who injured a medial ligament in September. "You still get to get skills right in tackling, catching that sort of stuff."
"I'll have another four weeks to look forward to but it's nice to be fit really."
Saturday's match will be the first between the two teams outside of the World Cup since the All Blacks pulverised Japan 83-7 two years ago and 145-17 in 1995.