There's a flicker of hope now that this All Blacks squad have the fundamentals they will need to leave some kind of footprint in history.
We are probably not looking at one of the great All Blacks sides. Not yet anyway as there are too many doubts about their ability to consistently deliver the intensity and accuracy they need to win with the sort of regularity that defines greatness.
They found the edge they were after in Newcastle – the cold, clinical controlled mentality to systematically and patiently break down the Pumas, but they came into the game desperate from the self-inflicted circumstance of delivering two consecutive defeats built on their own failings and shortcomings.
Desperation can't be the place from which they operate. A boom-bust cycle of defeats followed by an emphatic response won't keep anyone happy.
Greatness doesn't fluctuate – not wildly and dramatically the way the All Blacks have this season. But the fact they were able to find answers to so many of the problems that surfaced in Brisbane and West Sydney suggests there is hope for this team.
Greatness may be a long way down the track but at least it is a feasible destination now - no longer a mythical land which these All Blacks will never reach.
At the very least we can be sure there is a will within this team to get better. There is a steel core that says there is a depth of resilience and character and by extension that provides some reassurance that there is unity within the squad and respect for a leadership team – both players and management – who are considerably smarter then they are credited for.
Ian Foster is everyone's favourite punching bag. He's painted as staid, almost stale, not just because he's the choice of the establishment but because he seemingly doesn't come with the same quirk factor as Scott Robertson, the man he beat to the job.
Maybe, in time, New Zealand will regret not giving the role to the inventive Robertson. Maybe by this time next year it will have become apparent that what this young All Blacks side needs is a young, creative coach whose ideas are entirely original.
But right now, the balance of evidence supports an element of optimism that Foster can give the team what it needs, which may not necessarily be the same as what those with an anti-establishment bent want.
He had to come up with answers in Newcastle – ways in which his team could be strong where they had been weak: fast where they had been slow and effective where they had been ineffective and he did just that.
There's clearly a depth of rugby intelligence within the coaching group and it is not abstract: the lift in the All Blacks' performance in their 38-0 win is definitive evidence that Foster can articulate and connect to the point where what he demands in training is what he sees on the field.
The same can be said of captain Sam Cane. His game management in Newcastle was superb: he didn't lose his conviction that the Pumas would eventually crack if the All Blacks were able to keep frustration at bay and carry on squeezing.
That was bold and it was built on the realisation that an enormous amount can be packed into the last 10 minutes of a test match and the way Cane stayed so calm, so certain and determined in that final quarter was the surest sign yet that he's the right and only choice to captain this side.
But amid this optimism there has to be caution. The future of this team is likely to continue to be a little up and down.
They don't yet have the collective experience they need in key positions. Richie Mo'unga feels like he's been around for an age as does Jack Goodhue, but neither has yet played 25 tests.
Nor has Jordie Barrett and Nepo Laulala hasn't quite hit the magic mark of 30 – that being the number of caps former coach Steve Hansen used to say players needed before they could lose the inexperienced tag.
The key combinations are not yet instinctive or innate. The attacking patterns are not embedded to the extent they need to be for all the half chances to be converted and the lack of experience in key positions and the likely ongoing presence of genuine test beginners such as Akira Ioane, Caleb Clarke and Will Jordan will see the All Blacks endure a few more ugly moments next year and beyond where they make critical errors at critical junctures and lose big games.
Their journey to the next World Cup is likely to bump and grind at various times – contain a few more defeats compared with their statistical average of the last decade, but it will, based on what we have seen this season, also be punctuated with big wins and brave moments.