How good was it to see Ben Smith skipping about like a young colt, scoring tries for fun against Wales?
His was a sign-off for the ages, a display as emphatic as the left-hand push in the mush delivered to Wales halfback Tomos Williams as Smith scored his second try in the All Blacks' 40-17 win over a depleted (six first choice players missing) but game Welsh side.
It was how all departing All Blacks should finish – leaving you wanting more – and the 33-year-old Smith pulled out a bravura performance to revitalise what had been, overall, a fairly flagging farewell until then.
Smith, in the judgement of just about everyone, looked less like his All Black self in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup and more like someone cresting the hill and/or on the way to play rugby in France. He justifiably missed out on selection against England with Beauden Barrett at fullback and Sevu Reece taking his alternative wing spot.
Maybe he just needed a bit more time. Against Wales, his sinuous run past about four defenders for his first try was vintage Smith and his sprint, fend and try in the corner after a scalpel of a pass from halfback Aaron Smith reminded us all of his finishing quality.
Even more than that, he somehow managed to leave the great debate unresolved: was he better at wing or fullback?
Smith departs the international rugby stage with the number 33 reverberating. The 33-year-old started 33 tests as a winger and 33 as a fullback, scoring 23 tries as a winger and 14 as fullback in his overall haul of 39 (two as a centre).
In his pomp, he was regarded as the best fullback in the world, by New Zealanders and many players from other nations. All Blacks fans often clamoured to play him at 15. However, displays like that against Wales on Friday night remind us all of his ability on the flanks.
So here's one suggested answer to the wing or fullback riddle: Ben Smith is arguably the finest winger-fullback test rugby has ever seen.
Few players can genuinely claim to fill these hybrid boots. The All Blacks' Israel Dagg played the role well and England's Elliot Daly is accomplished in both positions. France's Serge Blanco was brilliant but only played 12 of his 93 caps on the wing while perhaps Smith's biggest competition, Australia's David Campese, played only 16 of his 101 tests at fullback.
No, if this Wales test was an Ender for Bender, it also signalled his sole ownership of the title of best winger-fullback in world rugby history.
If we're going to play the fruitless game of comparing players cross-era, Smith will probably finish behind the almost-incomparable Christian Cullen in ranking All Black fullbacks and perhaps behind several out-and-out All Black wings. But when you add up his tries, his almost inexplicable ability to beat the first tackle and set things up and his ability under the high ball, he is the benchmark in the winger-fullback role; Ben the Benchmark.
You can say much the same about retiring skipper Kieran Read. He copped plenty from armchair critics earlier this year when still coming back from his injury, nursed by the All Blacks machine to be peaking in Japan.
For some, his heroics at No 8 will rank behind the muscular horsepower and Māori warriorship of Buck Shelford and the exotic skills of Zinzan Brooke, whose famous three test dropped goals stamped him as a man and loose forward apart.
But could either of those other two greats have done what Read did? In his 127 test matches (between them Shelford and Brooke totalled 80), Read re-designed himself to switch from the runner in the wide channels to the hard-tackling, hard-charging man up the middle and an essential part of the All Black lineout.
Against Wales, he had a creative hand in two of the first three tries – for Joe Moody's long run to the line and the first Ben Smith try – before burgling Welsh lineout ball off acclaimed test lock Alun Wyn Jones to set in motion Ryan Crotty's farewell All Black try. Add to that an impressive, game-leading number of tackles and there is little mystery what the All Blacks will miss when Read is gone.
All that said, this World Cup campaign will forever rank as a disappointment. True All Blacks followers, however, are already licking their lips in anticipation of the unforeseeable future. Along with Read, Smith, Crotty, Matt Todd and Sonny Bill Williams finishing their All Black careers, next year will see a new coaching and selection panel and a vast re-jig of the playing roster with the likes of Brodie Retallick missing on sabbatical…plus maybe reduced appearances by Beauden Barrett and Sam Whitelock.
That's a whole bunch of talent and experience not available; the make-up and gameplan for the 2020 All Blacks will be fascinating – if only for the suspicion we may no longer be able to expect them to win everything.
Still and all, the 2011-2019 era has been a great one in All Black history and, if we have to wave goodbye to the World Cup, extending the 66-year history of beating Wales (in some style) was a fine farewell for two of the greats of that time – the most-capped No 8 and one of the most successful All Black captains and the best true winger-fullback the game has yet seen.