Things just got interesting and, in truth, the All Blacks' injury woes have given tonight's test a well-timed kick in the pants.
The loss of captain Richie McCaw (calf) and comeback wing Cory Jane (hamstring) to injury yesterday provided the missing ingredients to a rivalry that is in danger of becoming a tad predictable.
Two days ago All Black coach Steve Hansen summed up that reality when asked what his side's biggest challenge was this week.
"It's the mental side of playing an opponent that you know you are marginally better than they are and everyone expects you to win, is what we've taken on this week," Hansen said. "We respect Australia, they are one of our big rivals, but we also know at the moment that we have a slight advantage over them. If we relax then we lose that advantage. So it's as much mental with our preparation this week as anything else."
The same could be said for the public ahead of this Bledisloe Cup clip-on test.
Hansen was only being honest. Australia do not possess one of their great lineups, and with wing Peter Betham called up and Matt Toomua at second five-eighth they have disruptions of their own.
But the absence of McCaw is added to a side with two first time starters in Jeremy Thrush and Charles Piutau, who is on the end of a considerably reshuffled backline.
Though Australia's captain James Horwill denied it, his squad will surely gain some belief from the teamsheet alone, openside Michael Hooper in particular.
McCaw's absence will not be terminal. Sam Cane's test credentials have grown immeasurably this season during five test starts, while No 8 Kieran Read is looking to extend his unbeaten run as skipper to seven.
Piutau provides a more realistic target for the Wallabies.
Though talented with ball in hand, he can spill the odd high ball and will be a bundle of nerves in his first test start after coming in from outside the matchday 23.
On top of that Piutau will operate outside an untried midfield combination of Ma'a Nonu and Ben Smith. The potential is immense, but for now it remains untried.
The backs are sure to have plenty thrown at them by an Australian side bolstered by the seven tries they scored against Argentina.
Which brings us back to Hansen's midweek comment. The All Blacks still have the edge.
They are playing a game with so much width and pace that opponents struggle to contain them.
It is a structure that has seen the wings hug the touchlines and forwards remain in the middle of the park after set-piece.
That has freed up Read to roam wide on attack. He has been a devastating force and it is no surprise he's loved every minute.
"I'm really happy with how it has worked out and I'm really working into the gameplan at the moment. Hopefully we can work hard again [tonight] and get some front foot ball.
"It has been great [the tweaks to the gameplan], it's showcasing the skills in this team we have. Personally it's been good for my game and it's kept the onus on me to improve as well."
Read might struggle to top his efforts in the All Blacks' last test, but if Thrush can move as many bodies as Brodie Retallick, he'll get some decent phase ball from which to resume his combination with wing Julian Savea.
Read said the Wallabies were a "completely different beast" from the one the All Blacks encountered during their two previous wins this season.
That's partly true, but the same weaknesses remain and it would be surprising if the All Blacks did not target Quade Cooper as they have so successfully in the past.
It would be surprising if they didn't win too, but this one could be close.
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