It will be tempting for the All Blacks to reach for clichés as they try to make sense of what happened at Soldier Field.

Tempting to look for quick and easy answers as they try to regroup and get ready for what will surely be an epic battle in Dublin - a test they will have half an eye on this week in Rome.

All good things have to come to an end don't they? Be it the 18 test run or the 111 year run - at some stage new stories are written. Curses are broken. The weight of history can't sit on the vanquished for ever.

Consoling, yet not soothing thoughts for the All Blacks who will know they don't buy into clichés like that.

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They will know they were more than the five per cent off they had highlighted pre-game as the margin with which they couldn't afford to flirt.

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They will know they had a malfunctioning lineout for much of the first half that opened a door for Ireland. They will know they were beaten in the contest chasing for kicks and they will know they know that they gave up possession too easily and too often.

What they won't know was how much of that was self-inflicted. How much were they the architects of their own demise?

"We allowed ourselves to be dominated in the first half and didn't control the possession and a lot of that is to Ireland's credit - but also to ourselves so we have a wee bit of work to do," said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

"People will say you didn't have your two locks but we don't have any excuses - we just got beaten by a better side on the day. And that happens when you play good sides and we have been saying for quite some time, that Ireland are a good side."

Ireland, clearly, were the main source of pressure. They did what they had to - which was play at the top of their game for 80 minutes.

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They had to put it all together, be supremely clinical in every aspect and leave no points on the field. They did that - they hit the near perfect performance and just as the All Blacks were threatening to pull off another miraculous escape, they squeezed one more time and the beast couldn't respond.

That's the first time in 18 tests that the All Blacks didn'thave an escape hatch. It's also the first time in much longer that they maybe didn't have the mental discipline and belief to plot their way to victory.

Having fought their way back to 33-29 with 15 minutes to go, the game felt like it was back within their grasp. One more try and there was a feeling that Ireland wouldn't be able to respond.

But the All Blacks didn't have the killer touch. They made mistakes they normally wouldn't and passes were spilled and decisions not as well thought through as they needed to be.

Now the question is how well can they respond? They will almost certainly be without Ryan Crotty and George Moala who are likely to be heading home - the former with a pulled hamstring the latter with a damaged upper arm.

Malakai Fekitoa and Anton Leinert-Brown are no doubt going to have to form a combination lickity-split or go slightly left field and ask Ben Smith to move into the midfield.

Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock, who were so desperately missed in all aspects, are expected to hook up with the squad in Rome, with the former a good bet to be ready to play in Dublin and the latter still not sure.

"It is easy when you win, you give yourself a pat on the back. But when you lose you give yourself a wee upper cut because there are things you have got to get better at.

"We have to go away and look at where they beat us, how they beat us and how we are going to get better so that in a fortnight's time we can contest the game."