Tomorrow's Quad Series double-header in Invercargill will offer a clear diagnosis on the health of both the Silver Ferns and international netball.
The New Zealand side are under pressure to deliver a confident and assured performance against Australia after crumbling to England on Wednesday. The 49-45 loss breathed life into the series, with three teams now a chance to take out the trophy.
The unbeaten Australians are favourites to claim their third consecutive crown, but their form has been uncharacteristically patchy. They were pushed hard by England before getting a hurry-up from South Africa midweek. The Proteas' six-goal loss is the closest they have come to Australia in 50 years. Like the Ferns, Australia are rebuilding under coach Lisa Alexander but their foundations appear sturdier than New Zealand's.
Over the first two matches, questions have been asked of the Silver Ferns' defensive clout, cohesion on attack and decision-making under pressure. Coach Janine Southby believes her side can make the adjustments against Australia.
"The only way these young ones are going to get any better is to experience this and to feel what it is and to have a good, hard look at what they did and how they can learn and be better for it."
An ankle injury to towering defender Kelly Jury may delay the highly anticipated match-up between the youngster and Australian captain Caitlin Bassett. At 1.92m, the 20-year-old Jury is 1cm shy of Bassett and there are high hopes she is the answer to the super-shooter's dominance. Jury travelled to Invercargill with the squad but a decision on her availability won't be made until late today. If Jury is sidelined, the job of containing Bassett will likely fall to one of two other rookies - Jane Watson or Phoenix Karaka.
The only other selection issue is over newcomer Whitney Souness. The dynamic midcourter has impressed in her first two tests but there were periods in the loss to England where her connection with centre Shannon Francois broke down. The more established Gina Crampton may come in.
Whatever the line-up, Alexander expects there will be a period of feeling one another out.
"We haven't played against New Zealand all year, after the [dissolution of the transtasman league]," Alexander said. "In a sense, our transtasman rivalry has been amplified, as we don't get to face New Zealand athletes as regularly in this new era of netball."
The Ferns won't know the equation facing them in order to win the Quad Series until after the England v South Africa clash. Were England, New Zealand and Australia all to finish on two wins each, the title will be decided by goal percentage.