The contrasting elements of Fiji were seen in Dunedin, where their on-field efforts were cohesive and inspiring, only for their clean-skin jersey to offer a reminder that their off-field situation is volatile.
The final score of 57-23 doesn't accurately portray the contribution of Fiji, who for 60 minutes dominated the key battlegrounds against the All Blacks and produced a brand of physical, athletic rugby that was as effective as it was great to watch.
Two weeks in quarantine, an inability to access key individuals, a lack of time together and an All Blacks' awakening all contributed to Fiji enduring a tough final 10 minutes.
Fiji, with the bulk of their squad playing in the top leagues of Europe, made clear they are a side with inordinate potential. They have size and speed: big men who can carry hard and tackle harder.
Their ability to compete at the breakdown, to expertly employ an aggressive and strategic defensive structure and make smart decisions about how to use the ball, were all at a level that suggests they can be a top five nation.
They have a coaching team that is as good as just about any other international set-up and all that is holding them back is a lack of exposure to big time football and the ability to spend more time together as a group.
Fiji, like every other second tier nation, live off sporadic fixtures and snatched time together and what coach Vern Cotter says they need more than anything else, is an opportunity to build that deeper game understanding so relatively simple things can be better executed.
"It is a performance we can build on," he said. "We showed grit, determination, guts, physicality and a few smarts.
"But if we look at how much we gave the All Blacks and if we took away a bit of that. If we got to exit properly in the first half; if we didn't give away a couple of penalties we could have avoided, I think we can progress rapidly. The ingredients are there – it was a brave performance."
Early in the second half, Fiji had momentum and were only 31-23 behind. For a fleeting moment, the prospect of a Fijian victory couldn't be ruled out, but they showed their lack of game management and experience when it mattered most.
"We needed to score again," said Cotter. "We needed to validate those parts of the game where we were doing well. When you score, you need to be able to kick out and get back down the other end again.
"There were probably a couple of times when we didn't do that as well as we would have liked to have. But I think it was pretty clear for everybody to see that we competed well at the breakdown. I think we made up for a lot of our errors with the bravery and some of the technique we had in that area and if we keep doing that, polish up in some other areas, I think we'll be a handful.
"If we can get those games more often you get to measure yourself more often against the best teams, you will improve. I think we have shown enough in this game to be offered an opportunity to play more of those sorts of games. I hope so."
But there was a reminder, too of how precarious the situation in Fiji. The players chose not to put the slogan 'Vaccinate Fiji' on their jerseys, saying they had not been properly consulted and not everyone was comfortable doing it.
"We really haven't got the full answer," said Cotter on why that decision was made. "It was sprung on the players quite late in the piece, and there wasn't a lot of exchange and consultation.
"As you can imagine, it's a delicate subject for some, so it was probably better to just have a clean jersey at this stage, and spend some time on how we best want to communicate on this matter and how comfortable the players are in communicating it.
"It's complex, and we need to work it out, because it's not just sport we're talking about now. So, we'll just take time to communicate better in future."