There's always been a resilience and rejuvenation quality about the All Blacks.
Great players come and great players go and the team marches on, rarely pausing or noticing the change.
The All Blacks don't tend to fall apart when they unexpectedly find themselves without one of their best.
They held it together fantastically well even when the greatest player of all, Richie McCaw, exited stage right after 15 incredible years.
They have not consciously been built around one player and have bounced along through history, oblivious almost to the ebb and flow of personnel.
But they now face the prospect of being without Aaron Smith for the remainder of the year, something which will test their ability to prove that their high tempo, pass and run game is not contingent on his presence.
Rarely in the past few decades has a player been so integral to the gameplan and while the All Blacks managed to reinvent themselves without McCaw and Carter, doing so without Smith will be harder.
The little halfback, who played his 100th test earlier this year, has been an automatic selection for the last nine years and as much as he's grown his game by being part of the All Blacks, the All Blacks have grown more by having him as part of their team.
What we know is that on the few occasions when he's not been picked, the All Blacks haven't been able to sustain the same speed and intensity of attack.
New Zealand has a collection of good halfbacks, but none have yet proven to be in the same league as Smith. It is a position which seemingly has a simplistic brief to incessantly pass and therefore it's not easy to immediately grasp why Smith is going to be so hard to replace.
To get to the answer, it's the micro detail that has to be analysed. The tendency is to see his game through a relatively broad lens and determine that it is his speed to the breakdown and then swiftness of pass that sets him apart from other test contenders TJ Perenara, Brad Weber and Finlay Christie.
As well as that sums it up, there is more to explain Smith's long tenure in the All Blacks number nine jersey than that.
What he alone can do is protect the integrity of his pass. No matter his physical state, he's the only halfback in the country who can maintain the speed and accuracy of his pass even when he's at or even beyond the limit of his aerobic capacity.
When he first became an All Black in 2012, he says he was only capable of playing at his highest intensity for about 40-45 minutes. It was typically about then during tests that his lungs would be heaving, his legs wobbling and cramping.
But as much as he was hurting those watching would never have known. His heart rate may have been through the roof but he'd typically eke out 60-65 minutes before he was hooked and from his first to his last pass, his technique was immaculate, his execution perfect.
And it has been Smith's ability to not let fatigue compromise his accuracy or debilitate his pass which has made him New Zealand's greatest halfback in history and kept him the veritable country mile ahead of Perenara and Weber.
It's an invaluable gift because what enables the All Blacks to play the up tempo game they crave is not just speed of thought and movement, but accuracy of execution.
Accuracy from the halfback is probably the most important ingredient of all in the quest to create an aerobic contest and pull defences apart at their widest parts.
Passes have to go to hand. They have to be the right weight and the right height so ball receivers can hit the ball at speed and play it on quickly.
Smith, no matter how tired he is, doesn't cut corners with his technique or throw the odd exploding bomb pass that bounces past the intended receiver to kill the momentum and put his team under pressure.
Perenara, who is probably going to pick up the majority of starts in Smith's extended absence, has not yet shown he can maintain the accuracy of his delivery.
He's a brilliant athlete, superb open field runner and big defender, but when he's tired, his pass often goes astray. He took himself off to Japan this year to improve his ability to play faster and while there were promising signs against Argentina that he is more instinctive in his movement and decision-making, the odd pass still thudded to no one.
Weber is much the same. He's quick and clever, but like Perenara his passing slowly deteriorated when he started against the Wallabies in Perth and with it, the All Blacks lost some of their attacking impetus.
The challenge has been laid bare to Perenara and Weber, Christie too, that the integrity of their passing is more important to maintain than speed, because the former, more than the latter, is what the All Blacks attacking game has been built on.