Back in 2007, the All Blacks thought they had built the mental resilience they needed to win the World Cup.
After endless failed campaigns, extensive work was done to stabilise the psychological faultline that kept cracking open when the All Blacks were closing in on the title.
By 2007, they thought they had stabilised the problem – learned the art of staying calm under pressure and living in the moment.
But they hadn't. The pressure they had felt in the three years building up to the tournament had never reached the same level that the team experienced in the World Cup.
Which is why in Cardiff they were labouring under the misapprehension that they were better prepared mentally than they had ever been, only to fall apart the same way they had in 2003 and 1999.
It was, among other things, a painful way to learn that in test football there are many different levels of pressure to be experienced.
Pressure is not consistent or linear. It fluctuates and intensifies according to the perceived enormity of the occasion, the quality of the opposition and the consequences of the outcome.
Back in 2007 when New Zealand met the French in the World Cup quarter-final, it was the most significant game the All Blacks had played since they were dumped out of the 2003 World Cup by Australia.
In the intervening years, the British and Irish Lions had come to New Zealand and rolled over, denying the All Blacks the tense series they were after.
The Wallabies were inconsistent, the Boks largely poor, England and France mostly hopeless and Ireland, Wales and Scotland barely worth mentioning.
The All Blacks were lulled, by a strangely soft three years, into believing they were mentally tougher than they were.
The situation this weekend has threads of similarity. This is, easily, the biggest game the All Blacks have played since they were dumped out of the 2019 World Cup semifinal by England.
It's a game with historic importance, being the 100th between the two countries and a game with plenty attached to the outcome as victory for the All Blacks will secure them the Rugby Championship while cementing their position as the world's highest ranked team.
Then there is the quality of the opposition. The Boks, despite their consecutive defeats to the Wallabies, are the real deal.
They are a heavyweight contender with the power to knock the All Blacks clean off their feet and with the greatest respect to Australia and Argentina – and Fiji and Tonga for that matter – South Africa present the toughest challenge of Ian Foster's coaching reign to date.
Australia, as has become apparent in recent weeks, are a credible and rising force, but they play a ruck and run game which works exceptionally well against most opponents, but is a style that plays heavily into the All Blacks' hands.
As good as the Wallabies are at high tempo football, the All Blacks are better and they are also in their element playing fast, aerobic, unstructured rugby.
The Pumas, tough and defensively clever, are a good team, rather than a great team. They have to be broken down and beaten, but it's more an exercise in patience than it is a white knuckle journey that skirts close to the mental and physical limits of the All Blacks.
The Springboks, though, have the size, the mentality and the core technical expertise to compete with the All Blacks across the field. They are the reigning world champions, with a handful of players who are indisputably world class.
They also have a conservative game plan that can frustrate and subdue the All Blacks and prevent their attack game from flourishing. The test in Townsville will put Foster's squad under the sort of pressure many of them have not yet fully experienced.
And this is when we have to think about 2007 and the way everyone thought the All Blacks were ready, but weren't at all.
The All Blacks have been superb during the Rugby Championship. They have looked mostly composed and certain. They have played with clarity and cohesion, relatively easily producing three victories against the Wallabies and then two against the Pumas.
They look ready. They look like a team that has physical gifts and mental strength but we won't know whether they really do until they face the vastly increased pressure the Boks will put them under.
The game will be intense and frantic. New questions will be asked of the All Blacks. Bigger men will hit them harder, run at them faster and shut them down in a way they have not experienced since that 2019 World Cup semifinal. The pressure will build. Problems will have to be solved and while it may feel like right now the All Blacks are ready and able to deal with what is coming, judgement about how Foster's team is really tracking needs to be put on hold until they have faced all that South Africa can throw at them.