For almost 10 years between 2009 and 2018, the All Blacks were so dominant on the world stage that they became a favoured thesis topic for curious minds that needed to understand what was driving this success.
It made for comprehensive reading as rugby's finest sleuths found an incredible number of factors which they said separated the All Blacks from everyone else.
When the World Cup was in New Zealand, writers from everywhere traipsed across the country, calling in for tea with Colin Meads and visiting the fabled home-made goalposts at the Carter homestead in Southbridge. They sampled the air in Kurow to see if it held any clues about the near super human qualities possessed by Richie McCaw.
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They went to South Auckland to try to gauge the weight of the Polynesian influence within the All Blacks and they called in at primary schools to see if rugby skills really are innate in New Zealand kids.
Everyone reached the same conclusion – that the All Blacks sit atop an holistic rugby system that is built piece-by piece, day-by-day, skill-by-skill.
Their success is not attributable to just one factor, but instead a whole series of infinitesimal happenings over an inordinately long rugby apprenticeship, that is aligned with a selection and development plan that spits out players who seem to have an almost Jedi-like feel for the game.
No one can disagree with this, but the whole business of what set the All Blacks apart in 2009 to 2018 could just as easily, and perhaps more effectively, be answered by saying it was due to their ability to execute the basics of the game better than everyone else.
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The 10,000-hour theory carries no romantic elements, but it better explains why the All Blacks were so good for a decade.
Pick a skill – any skill – between 2009 and 2018 and New Zealand's best players could hand on heart say there was no one anywhere in the world better at it than them.
And they did so through relentless application: a belief that endless repetition would lead to excellence.
The quality of the pass and catch in that period was mesmerising and that's because there were days when they did nothing other than pass and catch.
In Italy in 2012, the All Blacks backs spent an hour running back and forth across the width of the training field, varying the length of their passing and speed at which they were running.
For a whole hour, the ball stayed in front of the catcher, perfect passes being met with soft hands and not once was it dropped.
Maybe other teams could produce similar excellence on the training ground, but it was the fact that come game day, the All Blacks could reproduce this quality of pass and catch under intense pressure that set them apart.
Be it Daniel Carter, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith or Israel Dagg, the timing and accuracy never deserted them in those critical moments when they had a split second to get the ball to the next man.
No matter how good defences were, the All Blacks' basic skills were good enough to play their way through.
In that same period, no one was better at taking the high ball than Cory Jane, Dagg and Ben Smith.
Carter had an immaculate and diverse kicking game and he inspired Aaron Cruden to work relentlessly to find more length and accuracy off both feet.
The All Blacks' lineout rarely malfunctioned. After a terrible period in early 2009, teams across New Zealand were encouraged to speed up and simplify their execution and for a decade they arrived on the touchline and three seconds later had the ball secured.
Whatever the world threw at the All Blacks they found a way to conquer it. However good the rest of the world became, the All Blacks were a step ahead simply because they always found a way to execute their skills regardless of pressure or occasion.
And so on the eve of the 2020 Super Rugby season kicking off, it is obvious what must happen if the All Blacks are to return to the top of the world game.
They need to get back to basics.
Get the basics right and the rest will follow: if the All Blacks get back to being the best at the foundation skills, they will get back to being the number one team.
Throughout 2019 there was endless talk that manic, frantic defence had become all too easy to produce in a world of lax officiating of the offside line.
Again, there is basis to this - that the All Blacks faced an impossible mission trying to attack their way through solid defensive walls that were camped a metre further up the field than they should have been.
But, also, there is more truth to the counter-argument that the reason the All Blacks struggled last year was that their basic pass and catch wasn't sharp enough; their kicking not accurate enough and their general skills not quite polished enough.
There were games when the All Blacks were great: moments against Ireland, Australia and South Africa when they were their old selves – powerful running and off-loading, incredible timing of the passing, clever kicking.
Everyone in 2011 was looking in the wrong places for answers about New Zealand's rugby dominance and the process could easily be repeated in 2020 in the search for ways to return to the top.
It's simple enough – across all five Super Rugby teams, the passing needs to be better. The ability to draw a defender and create space needs to improve.
It's not that these skills have fallen off the cliff – they just haven't kept apace with the improvements that have been made across the world on the defensive front.
New Zealand's kicking needs to collectively improve – both the actual execution of the skill and knowledge of when and where to kick.
More forwards need to be able to off-load: to stay on their feet for longer in the contact and play the ball out of the tackle more.
Lineouts need to be executed quicker – less thinking and talking, more accurate throwing and better-timed lifting.
Just as there used to be people all over the world trying to explain New Zealand's dominance, they are now devoting hours detailing why this country's rugby empire has collapsed.
They missed the point in the boom years and they are going to miss it again now – the key to success has always been and always will be the precision execution of basic skills.