For too long the Springboks were tied to the goal-kicking rewards Morne Steyn gave them.
New coach Heyneke Meyer found it hard to look beyond a five-eighths whose play suited the South African mentality of accumulating points behind a physical forward approach. Steyn was the man for that style of 10-man rugby.
Often it worked but increasingly, as Meyer found, that style of rugby came up short against the very best.
His problem in shifting the emphasis was finding suitable replacements.
There was always Patrick Lambie, who had been shunted around the backline or injured and seemed to be pigeonholed as more of a utility backup. Johan Goosen looked likely last year until he was hurt then took up a Racing Metro deal this season, while Francois Steyn had gone walkabout as well.
Then at the international under-20 tournament held this year in Auckland, we saw Handre Pollard, the strong youngster who was very composed, liked to play flat in the line and kicked goals with all the accuracy and wallop of both Steyns.
Pollard plays with such maturity it is hard to believe he turned 20 in March.
He will need some careful management but his emergence has given Meyer a list of five-eighths riches which are starting to rival the All Blacks'.
Several times yesterday Pollard undid the All Black defensive patterns with his ambition and eye for space coming from his running instincts as much as his huge punt.
He and Lambie offer new layers to the traditional Springbok forward strengths.
Even when the All Blacks must have suspected Pollard would have another crack from a scrum just before halftime, his power and evasion got him inside Aaron Smith and through the covering tackle of Richie McCaw enough to graze the chalk.
The young man does not lack confidence. The All Blacks had been warned when he skirted Joe Moody, Sam Whitelock and a covering Israel Dagg for his opening try from phase play.
He had his moments. He missed an early chance to get the Boks in front with a standard penalty and muffed a few kicks for touch but he delivered a strong hour for the Boks, cemented by Lambie's late strike.
The glue in the middle for the Boks is Duane Vermeulen.
He was supposed to have rib cartilage damage and was an uncertain starter on the morning of the test. Whatever the remedy, the Boks need to patent it.
Vermeulen was a huge threat with and without the ball and his workrate seemed to rise as the match went on.
When referee Wayne Barnes whistled his last decision, Vermeulen had won the vital ruck penalty for the Boks.
He was planted at the bottom of a pile of exhausted players, his big mitts round the ball as the All Blacks lost contact with their support.
Quality test rugby sides need class through the 8,9,10 spine of the team.
Think Kieran Read, Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden, Colin Slade or Daniel Carter for the All Blacks.
That's rugby riches but Vermeulen, Francois Hougaard or Fourie Du Preez, Pollard or Lambie - the Springboks are filling up fast with quality as well.