When Ireland coach Joe Schmidt was asked after his side's victory against the All Blacks last November whether he felt they were now World Cup favourites, he couldn't hide his surprise that anyone would actually think that.
He just laughed and pointed out that the World Cup was 11 months away which he suggested was ample time for things to radically change.
Schmidt was right to be dismissive as four months after Ireland were hailed World Cup favourites they were systematically ripped apart by England then slowly crushed by Wales and their unexpectedly rapid fall from grace illustrates just how quickly the international rugby landscape can change.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen alluded to this when he talked earlier this week about how a number of key players are tracking and how long it will be before the various walking wounded are likely to return to action.
The reason he was talking about that was because a flurry of questions had been put to him – all with a tone that implied he should be worried that so many players are injured and the World Cup is fast approaching.
He has never been prone to coming across as angst-riven even when he is actually feeling the pressure, but it's clear that Hansen is surveying the current landscape with a significant degree of calm and certainty.
Others may not be feeling so zen and are obviously spooked by the fact that a handful of probable key World Cup players continue to battle injury and some are particularly short of game time.
Dane Coles hasn't been sighted for weeks. Owen Franks has been absent for more of the Crusaders' campaign than he's been available. Brodie Retallick is still battling to recover and Kieran Read should be okay next week after taking a stinger sort of injury.
Liam Squire hasn't played yet this season and Sam Cane is only just making his way back after breaking his neck. Sonny Bill Williams is again rehabilitating that troublesome knee of his, Waisake Naholo has missed eight weeks and Ben Smith might not make it back to play for the Highlanders again.
That's almost half of what was the All Blacks' preferred starting XV last year and some nervous sorts are getting edgy, believing time is running out for various individuals to prove their form and fitness.
But there's still four months until the World Cup kicks off and as Ireland showed, that's an age in rugby terms.
Two weeks can sometimes be an eternity in test rugby and it's a pointless business getting wrapped up in the now and projecting those concerns into the future.
There is more than enough time for the picture to change and for the likes of Coles and Williams especially, to get themselves back on the park and build their form and confidence.
And as Hansen made clear, these sorts of players don't actually need to prove much more than they are match fit, eager and ready to give everything they have got.
They have already proven themselves. Everyone knows that Coles is world class and that he can do things no other hooker in the world game can.
The All Blacks know they are a better team with him in it. The same is true of Williams. He has played 51 tests and proven his skill set works at that level.
Like Coles, he just has to satisfy the All Blacks coaches that he's capable of playing at his best at the World Cup. He doesn't necessarily need to be playing the house down before the squad is picked – just do enough to give the coaches confidence that by the time he gets to Japan, he'll be delivering world class rugby
As for the likes of Retallick, Smith and Franks – no one need fret about them. The modern rugby player is a vastly different beast to the athletes of even five years ago.
These highly conditioned players are capable of missing six to eight weeks of rugby and returning as if they had never been away.
Players used to take a handful of games to find their groove after a moderately long injury break – but not now.
Top players look after themselves so well during rehab that they can actually be in better form in their first game back than they were in their last one before injury.
Richie McCaw was obviously the master at making a huge impression in his first game back, but Read did it against the Lions in 2017 when he was magnificent in the first test despite not having played for eight weeks due to a broken thumb.
Retallick also just about beat England on his own last year. He missed most of the Rugby Championship, had a 25-minute blast against the Wallabies in Yokohama in his first game back and then an 80-minute epic effort at Twickenham in his second.
The picture, as Hansen clearly sees it, looks pretty good. He has lost just one player – Damian McKenzie – and has seen Cane make it back safely and Read take his performances up a level from where he was last year after back surgery.
Ardie Savea has been just outstanding as have Anton Lienert-Brown and Jack Goodhue. Ryan Crotty has been playing well, Aaron Smith has found his mojo, Beauden Barrett is slipping into excellent form as is Richie Mo'unga and Rieko Ioane is sharp and full of energy.
And most importantly of all, there is plenty of time for those in need of more football to get it.