Aaron Smith rarely gets outplayed. Last Sunday was the exception to the rule.
In a disrupted rugby year Smith has set the bar for halfbacks in the world game with his superb form for the Highlanders throughout Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Yet in the first test of the season, following a near year-long absence, Smith's opposite number, experienced campaigner Nic White, dominated their halfback dual.
To be fair to Smith he battled behind an All Blacks pack often beaten to the punch at the breakdown, a scenario that makes any halfback's task a living hell, while the Wallabies forwards gave White an armchair ride, allowing him to expertly pick and choose his options from the base.
White finished Sunday's drawn opening Bledisloe with one try assist, one line break and two line break assists. His kicking game, in wet and windy conditions, regularly got in behind the All Blacks' back three or made sure they were contestable.
In short White caused the All Blacks major problems.
It's not the first time White has exposed the All Blacks, either – the Brumbies halfback was hugely influential in the Wallabies' shock 42-26 upset in Perth last year.
Once again in Wellington, White was afforded far too much time and space to jump out of the ruck and target slow returning All Blacks defenders which frequently had the Wallabies on the front foot.
"Nic White had a field day he was able to attack our defence he set up a couple of tries, he kicked well, having that impact on games is something I like to do," Smith noted following the All Blacks team review on Tuesday.
"He had a great game. It was hard to watch the clips on the flight here. The ruck ball, intent, those things make it easy for a halfback when you're playing with the ball on a plate.
"I want to keep pushing myself to another level of my performance and it wasn't good enough at the weekend."
Smith, in typically forthright fashion, was highly critical of his passing game as he seeks to rectify those errors in his 94th test that will draw him level with Conrad Smith.
"I'm disappointed personally with things I take pride in my game. Watching the clips, watching my own performance, personally my standards weren't up to it; my passing was erratic, inaccurate and really set us up. It gave them shots at Richie Mo'unga and didn't give our forwards opportunities to run onto the ball. Things I take pride in I need to sharpen up."
With more depth through their backline and improved accuracy of distribution Smith is confident the All Blacks will make the necessary adjustments for the second Bledisloe at Eden Park this Sunday which has sold 40,000 of 47,700 tickets.
"All those things showed up really badly for us. You can practise it but test match rugby is a different level, a different speed. There were opportunities but throwing bad passes or dropping key balls, that's the difference.
"I wouldn't say it was all Australia I'm sure they've got things they want to improve as well. The game we'll see on Sunday will be less rusty, less clunky, and hopefully a lot more free-flowing rugby.
"Playing Australia at Eden Park makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Hopefully I get another chance to fix up last week."