What a difference less than a year makes.
The All Blacks' World Cup defence, the bid for a glorious three-peat, has turned into a train wreck.
This week's controversies surrounding two of the Crusaders' All Blacks simply confirmed the impression that rugby's game of thrones will be one heck of a scrap.
It's not all over of course. It never is with the All Blacks. But it is hard to imagine how things could get much worse for coach Steve Hansen, in his final year in charge.
The public's extraordinary fascination with the Israel Folau controversy in Australia has masked what is going on here.
But whereas the Wallabies' woes are centred on one man, the All Blacks have a plethora of problems.
Where do you start?
Age and injury is evoking images of 1991 when a team of big names failed to defend the title, reputations proving no match for an outstanding Australian side.
Now one of the few bright lights for the 2019 tournament, the live wire Crusaders No 10 Richie Mo'unga, is under investigation after allegations he spat beer at a woman before groping her in South Africa.
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If proven, Mo'unga is in a lot of trouble, his place at the World Cup in jeopardy. And then the All Blacks are in a lot of trouble.
Even if Mo'unga is cleared, it is hard to know whether his sparkling game will immediately survive the pressure and spotlight. At best, a heavily intoxicated Mo'unga (he admits that) has had some kind of interaction with the public which is not what his employers, and many fans, would find acceptable.
There will be large sections of the public unhappy with the outcome whichever way it goes, with the golden glow around Mo'unga gone for now. Aaron Smith, for instance, has never reclaimed his mojo since the infamous toilet tryst.
It's just another piece in an increasingly messy puzzle for Hansen and his cohorts to sort out.
Mo'unga had been one of the few shining lights in what is a weird smorgasbord of problems. His World Cup potential was an antidote to Beauden Barrett's stalling form and the loss of the injured Damian McKenzie.
The All Blacks will go to the tournament without a third No 10. Or they might end up going with two of their three No 10s being un-schooled replacements for McKenzie and maybe Mo'unga.
There are injuries and incomplete recoveries all over the place, including Sam Cane's broken neck and captain Kieran Read's back operation.
The great Brodie Retallick appears injury prone. The great tighthead Owen Franks has a lingering shoulder issue. Joe Moody keeps getting hurt. Ryan Crotty keeps getting concussed. Dane Coles keeps getting hurt. Ben Smith gets injured.
So does Liam Squire, who is now unavailable for a mysterious "personal reason". This suggests Squire might not be mentally ready for the World Cup rigours.
Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith, the once peerless halves combo, are not playing to their best. Waisake Naholo has virtually played himself out of contention.
Then there were the brain explosions from Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane in the latest round of Super Rugby games, where New Zealand teams suffered three defeats against overseas teams.
Rising Crusaders star George Bridge, close to being a World Cup certainty, has also ended up with a situation to deal with in South Africa.
Some form is actually impossible to gauge.
Hansen is clinging to Sonny Bill Williams better than SBW is clinging on to game time. SBW hardly ever plays, and apparently doesn't need to because of dangerous over-confidence in him from the selectors.
His game instincts are surely dulled.
The third halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi hardly gets on the field for the Chiefs.
As for a form guide, the All Blacks like to regard last year's defeat against Ireland as an invigorating wake-up call, but that is putting a positive spin on the situation when you recall that England should have beaten them the week before.
The rest of the rugby world will see this as a chink in the armour of mystique which often protects the men in black.
When you look for players who have been fit and firing in recent times, it comes down to Mo'unga, Rieko Ioane, TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea, Scott Barrett, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown and Codie Taylor. Karl Tu'inukuafe's large frame probably crashes into this category, although the Blues scrum is not a sure thing.
What has emerged, just months away from the tournament, is a team with far too many variables. It might come together, but it also might fall apart.
At some point last year, I rated the All Blacks as unbeatable for the World Cup.
Right now, I'd say they are very slight favourites and potentially plunging if Mo'unga is axed.