A few test careers are going to end next year when Covid restrictions lift, squad sizes shrink and the All Blacks have to reacquaint themselves with making harder, colder selection decisions.
This year has provided optimal conditions for All Blacks coach Ian Foster to fulfil one of his major goals of growing the number of individuals capable of playing test football.
The perfect storm of condensed fixtures, quarantine restrictions and personal circumstances of some players has enabled the All Blacks to offer game time, opportunity and certainty to a vastly expanded squad.
When they shortly embark on the second five-week leg of their marathon offshore campaign, they will welcome Sam Whitelock, Dane Coles, Sam Cane and Shannon Frizell as well as the uncapped Josh Lord and in doing so, inject eager, energised bodies into a squad that needs fresh input given the workload they have already carried.
For Foster, this season has been an exercise in juggling – working out how to use an enviable depth of resource to tackle an almost impossibly difficult schedule.
But the All Blacks world is likely to look entirely different next year and a cold, unforgiving chill is going to have to blow through the team and possibly end a number of established test careers.
Next year seems destined to return the rugby world to something resembling normal – domestic tests in July, a Rugby Championship in a traditional format and an end of season tour to Europe.
There will be less need – and limited financial appetite - to carry the giant squads of the Covid era.
The year before a World Cup is also, typically, the point in the cycle when the focus gets narrower and coaches shift the focus from quantity of personnel to quality of personnel.
The squeeze is coming. Foster's job won't be about juggling resource, it will be about culling it and then week to week, managing it diplomatically to ensure that the disappointed don't infect the environment with negativity.
Two years into this World Cup cycle and circumstances have been such that this All Blacks group hasn't had to live with the selection axe constantly hovering over them or the tension of tough calls being regularly made.
But that world is coming and there will be victims. There will be winners and losers and most likely some shock departures when Foster and his selection team settle on who they want in their smaller squad and who they see in their preferred match day 23.
Even now it's apparent that it's not a long-term proposition to include Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga, Jordie Barrett and Damian McKenzie in the match day squad as was the case in the loss to South Africa.
Three of them yes, four of them, no and on the evidence of how things have played out in 2021, McKenzie seems destined to be the casualty, something he may already have forecast earlier this year when he signed a contract to play in Japan next year.
The assumption is that McKenzie will follow the path of TJ Perenara and recommit with the Chiefs and New Zealand Rugby and return once his deal in Japan expires in May 2022, but maybe he won't.
Maybe when he comes to assess his future, he won't be overly enthused at the prospect of playing occasional tests against lower ranked nations, sporadically being on the bench for the big ones and playing a bit part at the World Cup.
McKenzie won't be alone in being nervous and unsure about his All Blacks future. The midfield still doesn't have the right balance and as this season has developed, it's become apparent Jack Goodhue is being sorely missed.
He'll come back into the frame next year as will Caleb Clarke if he gets himself fit and energised, because he is not only the best power wing in the country when he's on form, he's also one of the best under the high ball having honed his skills in that area playing sevens and competing for kick-offs.
The crush is just as intense in the forwards, particularly the back-row. Once Cane is fully assimilated, he and Ardie Savea, given their experience, leadership and form, will be the only two loose forwards who can feel certain they will be picked.
The rest are in a massive scrap to survive and given his versatility, work-rate, attitude and desire to throw himself at everything, Ethan Blackadder has possibly made himself indispensable.
Clearly the All Blacks can't keep running with eight props the way they are now and the big surprise there might be that Ethan de Groot, barely seen this year because of injury, ends up ranked ahead of more seasoned campaigners.
Just as the two young hookers Samisoni Taukei'aho and Asafo Aumua have played well enough to demand that Dane Coles and Codie Taylor keep lifting their performances next year.
The pressure is building across the team and it might be quite surprising who is squeezed out when it eventually goes pop.