In the first nine games of this campaign, Wallaby half Nick Phipps was a regular pain in the butt, playing traffic cop organising his backline with the ball at his feet, delivering passes all over the shop, and chirping the referee.
Not last night at Eden Park.
All the wash-up from Bledisloe Cup 3:
» Eight talking points
» What changes should the Wallabies make?
» DIY player ratings
» Read the match report
» Re-live the action with our live blog
» Watch the highlights
Phipps was switched on throughout his 61 minutes, swooping on possession, delivering in a nano second with flat accurate passes, and leaving the referee alone.
Had he been a thoroughbred, the stewards would have swiftly called for a swab with Phipps’ massive performance lift.
And the Wallaby backline celebrated with a vastly improved and positive step forward in running 817 metres, compared to the All Blacks’ 583.
Throw in the Wallabies’ 65 per cent possession, and 68 per cent territory, and it would be fair to ask the question how could the All Blacks win 37-10 to set a new world record tier one 18th successive Test victory?
The answer is simple. The Wallabies couldn’t finish off their chances, while once the All Blacks had a sniff, they converted the chances into points – the reason why they scored six tries to one.
Every rugby international has a turning point. Last night it was the 45th minute when Wallaby winger Henry Speight was in the clear with the All Blacks leading 15-10.
Speight dotted down, but referee Nigel Owens went upstairs to check whether Wallaby winger Dane Haylett-Petty had impeded opposite number Julian Savea in pursuit.
At best it was a 50-50 call which should go in favour of the attacking side, but Owens found in favour of Savea.
If Bernard Foley had converted and moments later landed an in front penalty instead of slamming into the left hand upright, the Wallabies could have led 20-15 and it would have been a very different ball game.
But if never wins anything, and the All Blacks eventually clicked into the gear that makes them the undisputed world’s best side that has won the last two World Cups, held the Bledisloe since 2003, and won nine of the last 12 Rugby Championships.
Last night they piled on an unanswered 22 points in just 19 minutes, and it was all over – game, set and match.
But the Wallabies were far from disgraced, they were a much better side than the 27-point margin suggests.
They restored pride and passion, nobody could deny them that and both teams had the 47,744 Eden Park crowd constantly roaring as they ran the ball and rarely kicked.
Next up the Grand Slam tour plus France in November, and if the Wallabies reproduce last night’s form but improve their conversion rate, that tour should produce an impressive five wins.
Providing Nick Phipps plays like he did last night, it will be a welcome revelation.