The red card shown to Scott Barrett in Perth last month is haunting a number of international coaches.
There's more than a few worried that the World Cup is going to be needlessly ruined or turned upside down by a pool of referees many would see as the weakest in decades, who are led by a World Rugby officiating executive that has frankly lost the plot.
If there is one single decision that explains the universal nervousness and lack of faith in World Rugby's ability to ensure fair and consistent refereeing at this World Cup, it is surely the fact that Jerome Garces and Romain Poite are among the 12 referees going to Japan.
The two Frenchmen have never had to answer for the unfathomable business in the last minutes of the 2017 series with the British and Irish Lions, which saw Poite wrongly consult the TMO then ignore his advice anyway to overturn a match-winning penalty to the All Blacks and instead award a scrum.
To make matters yet more confusing was that Garces, who was the assistant referee, persuaded Poite to change his mind and did so by saying: "We have a deal, we have a deal ..."
Yet these two have been rewarded for that with a place at the World Cup and Garces has been given arguably the biggest pool match of the tournament – New Zealand versus South Africa.
It wasn't the first time Poite had ruined a test at Eden Park, for in 2013 he sent off Springboks hooker Bismarck du Plessis, having wrongly shown him a first yellow card for a legitimate tackle on Dan Carter.
That decision was immediately overturned after the game and World Rugby apologised to the South Africans, but while Poite was cast into the wilderness for a short period after, he has found his way back into the fold.
Refereeing appointments, however, are only the tip of the iceberg, in regards to World Rugby's chaotic decision-making.
Rugby: Ian Foster relishing opportunity to coach All Blacks in Hamilton
Phil Gifford: How to fix the 'basic' NZ gameday experience
Cyclone heading for Tokyo: The threat to the Rugby World Cup
It's not just that there are bad eggs in the mix, it's the lack of clarity about how the laws will be applied which is the unifying fear among coaches.
Squads picked, bags all but packed and the first World Cup game less than two weeks away, this should be a time of optimism, excitement and hope for all those heading to Japan.
But inside the management teams of the serious contenders, none of those emotions exist because they are all fearful that red cards and insanely inconsistent decision-making by officials are going to be what defines this World Cup.
Coaches will never be perfectly aligned with officials. They will never see the game in exactly the same way, but no one can remember a time when the expectations of those coaching and playing have been so far removed from those officiating.
They are so far apart because players and coaches want a game where they can contest physically without fear of recrimination should there be obviously unintended collateral damage.
World Rugby, though, has empowered its referees to not make the distinction between intended and unintended if it involves the head, and has also lacked the conviction or desire to ensure they all uniformly take that stance.
The heavyweight nations have been aghast at what they have seen in the past eight weeks.
Barrett was red-carded in Perth but Ireland's Devin Toner wasn't penalised for an almost identical offence against Wales last week.
Two Welsh players, Aled Davies and Ross Moriarty, escaped any sanction for head-high contacts against English players in their test at Twickenham, yet French lock Paul Gabrillagues was red-carded and banned for six weeks when he cleaned out a ruck against Scotland in what appeared to be a legitimate means but connected with someone's head.
Australia were guilty of 17 neck rolls when they beat the All Blacks and not one was penalised and Jerome Garces didn't award even a penalty when RG Snyman dislocated Brodie Retallick's shoulder from an offside position in Wellington.
None of it makes sense. None of it gives players or coaches any confidence that this World Cup will be determined by what they do, but will instead hinge on the entirely unpredictable actions of the referees in charge who have been given vague and ambiguous guidance on what is expected.
Seeing what they have in recent weeks, every international coach is now convinced that referees will determine who wins this World Cup and they all expect red cards will be shown in record numbers and most likely for offences that were accidental.
And the fact that rival coaches are all on the same page is perhaps the greatest clue as to how bad things are.
When Barrett was red-carded, first Wallabies coach Michael Cheika expressed empathy for the player – suggesting that he didn't support the decision but knew why it had been made.
A day later and England coach Eddie Jones went much further, calling it ridiculous and pleading for common sense to be applied.
There's something not right when the Wallabies and England are jumping to the defence of the All Blacks.
But there is solidarity in the ranks because coaches all know the difference between foul play with intent and collisions that have unintended consequences as a result of late changing body positions and other unforeseen circumstances.
Jones and Cheika know that the game is currently a lottery and while it was Barrett red carded in Perth, in the current arbitrary world, it could just as easily be one of their own who is the victim of nonsensical refereeing at the World Cup.
After preparing players and game-plans for four years, no one really wants to get to the World Cup and find out that the referees aren't up to it but that prospect now seems unavoidable.
As hard as the various coaches have campaigned behind the scenes for clarity and consistency, it's clear they are not going to get it in Japan.
Why would they? They haven't seen any common sense applied this year and certainly not in the last two months.
The picture becomes increasingly not less confusing the nearer the World Cup gets and most baffling of all has been the reluctance to deal with the increased volume of neck rolling that has crept back into the game.
World Rugby is determined to protect players' heads but not their spines, apparently. One hint of a head collision and a red card could come out, but put someone in danger of being paralysed and no official can see a problem.
Ask the players about what really concerns them and it's that – being gripped around the neck and shifted with their spinal cord dangerously vulnerable.
Sam Cane spoke about this recently, saying: "Referees have dropped off neck roles a little bit. They were hard on that at the [last] World Cup, but it has crept in a wee bit. Every now and again you are at the breakdown and someone gets you around the neck and you have that second of 'oh jeepers what is going to happen here?':.
And "oh jeepers what is going to happen here?" may as well as be the universal credo for this World Cup.
Love your rugby? Click here to subscribe to our new Premium newsletter for extensive Rugby World Cup coverage.