As football fans continue to recover from the 'horror in Honiara', it is worth reflecting on the reaction last time the All Whites had a major slip-up against an Oceania nation.
Back in May 2004 Mick Waitt, with Ricki Herbert as an assistant coach, took his All Whites team to the Nations Cup tournament in Adelaide.
After a narrow 1-0 loss to Australia and a 3-0 victory over the Solomon Islands, the All Whites took to the field against Vanuatu on the 2nd June.
The starting XI featured Ryan Nelsen, Simon Elliott, Mark Paston, Tony Lochhead and Leo Bertos as well as less familiar names like Michael Wilson, Rupesh Puna and Brent Fisher. Glen Moss, Shane Smeltz, Ivan Vicelich and Tim Brown were among the substitutes.
Played in front of just 300 people, it was a bizarre game in a strange setting.
The All Whites dominated possession and territory but were exposed on the counter-attack. Vaughan Coveny gave some hope, scoring his second to make it 3-2 with 15 minutes to play before the Island nation hit a fourth in the 88th minute.
Then Soccer New Zealand CEO Bill McGowan didn't hold back after the match, as New Zealand's qualification hopes were now in some jeopardy.
"It's a shock result, it's causing a huge amount of negativity over here, and rightly so," McGowan told media the next day. "We now have three commercial opportunities at risk, and maybe a television opportunity as well. I've rung the coach this morning and made all that very clear, and I told him I expected him to remind the players of their obligation. Even if the Oceania countries are getting better, we need to maintain that gap between them and ourselves. In this sport in this country we are absolutely dependent on our international results. Everything else means diddly-squat. There's no beating around the bush - this result is totally unacceptable."
The All Whites won their final two matches in the round robin format but were consigned to the wilderness after the Solomon Islands managed a 2-2 draw with an understrength Australian team.
"We can't blame the Australians, we let ourselves down with the result against Vanuatu," Waitt told the New Zealand Herald. "At the end of the day, I'm the man that's responsible. I'm not going to hide from that fact. It wasn't bad luck, it was bad management [and] I'm the one who has to take responsibility."
Waitt was gone a few days later, as his contract was not renewed and Herbert appointed soon afterwards.
The reaction this time was quite different. Just one day after the match, New Zealand Football officials were talking of the need to "dust ourselves off and start all over again".
Herbert called the result a "real dent" and in a television interview straight after the playoff for third place heaped blame on his senior players.
Everybody was looking forward but nobody wanted to look back.
Instead fans were left with a series of head-scratching questions. The team had looked tired from the first game, perhaps as a result of their build-up in flying to the United States to play two matches in four days before returning to the Pacific and arriving in Honiara just two days before the tournament. The Herald on Sunday understands that some players even had to fly economy class for parts of the journey. There was no time for acclimatisation and it showed, as they failed to clearly dominate a single match. Why was Chris Killen suddenly our best option as a holding midfielder, a position he had never played in his career? Why had no one from the All Whites coaching staff attended the Pacific Games to scout the opposition, who clearly surprised the All Whites?
Why were the All Whites so stretched in each game of the tournament but especially the match with New Caledonia, with no linkage between the back three, the midfield and the strikers. In the conditions, it was suicidal. And why was their no change in strategy, game plan and tactics, across the whole tournament but especially in the semifinal, when they were clearly not working?
In the preparation for this tournament, there are hints of complacency and arrogance, echoes of Australia in 2002 (when they failed to bring their European-based players back for a play-off match against the All Whites and were ambushed) or the All Blacks in 2007, who were thinking ahead to the semifinal before they played France in Cardiff.
For all he has achieved as All Whites coach, Herbert deserves a chance to make amends but some answers to the above questions would have helped to appease football fans.
Apart from the obvious financial considerations, it also seemed many people have forgotten just how vital the 2009 Confederations Cup was in setting the platform for success in South Africa 12 months later.
The 2009 tournament resolved several important issues for Herbert. It made him realise there was no viable option at right back. That prompted the later switch to three at the back and showed some players were not up to scratch. The event cemented the return of Vicelich and served to underline the importance and influence of Ryan Nelsen. It was vital exposure to top class teams in meaningful matches, something that will be hard to replicate. The hard won point against Iraq, New Zealand's first at a senior men's Fifa tournament, gave the squad belief.By Michael Burgess Email Michael