James O'Connor had a test-and-a-half in which to stew about his indiscretion, 126 minutes to fester about his absence from the Wallabies.
When he skipped from the bench after halftime at North Harbour Stadium yesterday, the Wallabies were battling and locked at 6-all with Italy.
This was not the way the Tri-Nations champions were supposed to fare against a moderate Six Nations side, not a team rated second in the global rankings against the 11th-placed mob.
Twenty minutes later the Wallabies were leading by their eventual 32-6 margin, Southern Hemisphere belief had been restored, O'Connor had scored a try and converted three others.
Talk about making an impact from the bench.
The impassive Robbie Deans would have been glowing inside at his selection brinkmanship, hoping that this time O'Connor had soaked up some lessons.
While the 21-year-old is a wizard around the field, he also has the social default switches most blokes of his age have.
The problem is that O'Connor is a high-profile, highly paid professional athlete whose image is part of the Wallaby trademark. Missing World Cup announcements and publicity shots because he had been out late downing other shots was a no-go zone.
His absence hurt the side on the field but they were consequences Deans and chief executive John O'Neill had to implement for the benefit of the Wallabies.
They meant business and O'Connor and any other superstars in the side had to understand that dictum.
In his absence the Wallabies hoed into a strangely quiet All Black team in Brisbane but battled in their World Cup start.
They had Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale running one flank but they needed a cutting edge on the other.
Cooper was flashy and uncertain, often in the same movement.
Italy, playing into the wind, had squared the match before the break. Halfback Fabio Semenzato's array of box kicks and a strong chasing line had bothered the Wallabies while their backline defence held strong.
Down breeze, perhaps they could cause an upset. Italian coach Nick Mallett suggested pre-match his side was more focused on beating Ireland to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Those mindgames were ignored as most knew Mallett burned to damage the Wallabies after they ended his reign as Springbok supremo in the 1999 tournament when Stephen Larkham kicked a dropped goal.
Italy had never beaten the Wallabies in 13 tests but they had never met at a World Cup. Maybe the stage was set for their superb No 8 Sergio Parisse to lead them to a famous result. Maybe, but Deans had had enough of the deadlock.
O'Connor came on and coincidence or not, the flow to the Wallabies game returned.
He was involved in a stack of plays as Cooper and Digby Ioane started to reignite their venom.
When Parisse intercepted one of Cooper's no-look reverse passes, it was O'Connor who flew from his wing position to help quell the danger.
Not many will remember the first-half struggles for the Wallabies, the memories will be the clout from them after the break.
Two nights before, the All Blacks delivered a different pattern - solid start then quicksand, and that got all the pundits talking too.By Wynne Gray Email Wynne