It felt like an unintentional passing of the baton.
If Richie Mo'unga felt at all as if he still lived in some of test comrade Beauden Barrett's shadow, he stepped well and truly out of it on Saturday night.
The rise of Mo'unga is, for now, among the few antidotes to a game which has become so claustrophobic that TV commentators go berserk when a player runs with the ball for more than five metres.
It makes you pine for the days when Barrett roamed free, full of instinctive ideas and the space to turn them into glorious high-speed reality.
Sadly, the one-time gazelle of world rugby looked like a deer in the headlights in Christchurch as the Blues - surprise, surprise - faded against the Crusaders.
Barrett in his prime could have inspired the Blues to much better, but his wan effort wasn't a surprise. For all of the character he may have added to the Blues, he has been a bit of a passenger so far.
Barrett's demise as a flamboyant footballer, on what we've seen, is actually quite shocking. He looks physically shy, a touch slow, hesitant. When Barrett was cornered on a kick reception, he dallied and was trapped into surrender. I thought he had a pretty hopeless game overall.
The threats to Barrett's test position were probably on the other side - David Havili and Will Jordan. So was the man who has surpassed him.
Mo'unga was alive to all of the possibilities, in what became an increasingly superb performance. Even Braydon Ennor's momentum-shifting conversion chargedown came from the sort of thinking which once drove Barrett.
While Mo'unga and Barrett did not go into the game wearing the same numbers, they were matching up against each other. Barrett has never been a traditional fullback, but more a hybrid who operates as both spark and deliverer.
Yet the best Blues pass of the night came from Otere Black, whose long ball to Mark Telea created a try.
Will we get any rugby tests this year? If not, Barrett will go to Japan where his standards are more likely to slip than rise before he gets the chance to pull on a black jersey again.
As things stand, new All Black coach Ian Foster could do worse than make it clear to Mo'unga that it is now his ship to steer in the long term. Mo'unga is also by far the better goalkicker.
Fullback, meanwhile, has become a vexed question with Barrett's lack of energy, and the unacceptable risks Damian McKenzie keeps taking when he steps into first receiver.
The word has been out about Jordan for some time and while it's a little early to know for sure, the signs are exceptional. Meanwhile, Havili is revitalised and retains a weird ability to slip by tackles.
To be honest, Barrett looks like he is resting on his laurels. Either that, or at the age of 29 the physical and creative edges have gone.
By the time Barrett gets back to New Zealand next year, Jordan could be well on the way to cementing his place as the No 15 to take New Zealand to the next World Cup.