It's true that New Zealand has lost a few quality locks this year, but it has also gained one.
Amid all the fretting about Brodie Retallick's long stint in Japan, Scott Barrett's damaged foot and the lack of emerging talent, it's been lost that Sam Whitelock has re-invented himself in 2020 as a souped-up version of his 2019-self.
He's gone the full hog since he returned from Japan to play in Super Rugby Aotearoa, arriving back in Crusaders colours with the metaphoric racing-spoiler, fuel-injected engine, lowered suspension and mag wheels.
Whitelock in 2020 has looked nothing like Whitelock in 2019 and, if anyone doubts the magical healing properties of extended time off, they just need to cast their mind back 12 months and dredge up one of the many images of the big lock hauling himself through tests as if every ground he encountered was thick with treacle.
Whitelock, as can be clearly seen now, didn't fall victim to his age in the last World Cup cycle. He fell victim to the tyranny of professional rugby's scheduling and enormous carbon footprint which over the four years blunted his sharpest edges.
Too much rugby, too many impacts, too much time on planes – they all combined to stiffen him up and sell him short.
In the wake of the All Blacks' loss to England in the World Cup semifinal, the career obituaries flowed, but Whitelock's test career should never have been pronounced dead.
He was tired, not finished and, while some may believe his resurgence this year is due to some Dr Frankenstein work in a hidden laboratory to bring him back to life, the remedy was nothing more sinister than prolonged rest.
Whitelock has rediscovered his spring. He's been moving more easily and more rapidly and he's tapped into the athleticism that shot him into the All Blacks as an unknown 21-year-old.
What's critical now is that Whitelock isn't pummelled back into a state of disrepair to slowly regress as happened in the last World Cup cycle.
He and Retallick began 2016 as the two best locks in the world and the combination everyone feared.
The scariest part for those wanting to knock the All Blacks off their perch was that Whitelock and Retallick were still young and destined to be these two colossal pillars of ferocity and rugby excellence by the time 2019 rolled around.
They were the rocks on whom the 2015 World Cup triumph was built and it was difficult to comprehend what their individual and combined value would be by 2019.
But the projected career trajectory of both didn't materialise and, instead of seeing these two imperious creatures take their respective games and the All Blacks to new levels, the four years between 2016 and 2019 saw them beaten, battered, bruised and broken into inferior versions of their true selves.
Retallick was mostly broken and, while that may have left him with long and frustrating periods of rehabilitation, it was probably a better outcome than the fate endured by Whitelock.
Retallick's inconsistency between 2017 and 2019 was understandable. It was explainable. He was in this constant cycle of returning from major injuries and long lay-offs so when he was brilliant at Twickenham in 2018 in just his second game back after a near-two-month lay-off and then a passenger the following week in Dublin we all knew it was because backing up at that level with so little game time is next to impossible.
Whitelock would have probably rather that he, too, had been broken more in the cycle, rather than bruised, battered and beaten.
Fatigue was the invisible enemy for him. It slowly and undramatically robbed him of little bits and pieces and meant his form decline was almost imperceptible.
He's such a good player, such a good professional and athlete that he could hide, to some degree, that he spent most of 2018 playing with an injury that meant he couldn't run at full speed pain-free.
But that was the thing, between 2018 and 2019 he was getting by rather than playing at his best and it was only, really, when it came to the World Cup semifinal that the minor erosion of his dynamism was exposed.
England's Maro Itoje was the dominant force in Yokohama and he stole the role that Whitelock and Retallick both felt three years earlier they were destined to play.
A blip, an aberration, an anomaly ... call that last World Cup cycle what you will in regard to Whitelock's form and impact, but it certainly wasn't terminal.
One long rest has returned one phenomenal player.