If it wasn't already, it should have become apparent in the last few weeks that there has been a power shift in world rugby.
The Northern Hemisphere, so readily derided in these parts for their lack of imagination and ambition, is clearly setting the standards in test football.
On balance, it looks and feels like the north have become the great innovator. Kiwis probably don't see that as they are looking for sleight of hand, clever attacking ploys, and inventive movement to signal innovation. And that's not what the northern sides, the likes of France, Ireland, Wales, and England are offering.
The shift in power has come because these nations (and probably Scotland can be added to that list, too) have refined their work at the tackled-ball area to such an extent that they have made the breakdown the battleground on which the outcome of tests are now determined.
The set-piece has not been rendered worthless in this changed new world, but as match-winning currency, it has been devalued. A strong scrum and lineout are rarely, on their own, a means by which victory can be achieved these days and two tests in the last few days have illustrated that.
Fiji managed to compete with the All Blacks for 65 minutes in Dunedin and it was almost entirely due to their ability to dominate the tackled ball. That was their lifeline into the game – the means by which they could win possession and penalties and the area in which they frustrated the All Blacks by slowing the speed of their recycle.
The geographically astute will note that Fiji sits in the Pacific Ocean, most definitely south of the Equator, but the bulk of their players are mostly based in France or the UK and it is in the tough and tumble of Europe's premier club competitions that Fiji's newfound skills at the breakdown have been developed.
No doubt that Jason Ryan, Fiji's shrewd forwards coach, had a heavy influence in the Dunedin performance, adding into the mix all he has picked up as Crusaders assistant for the last few years.
But its exposure to the European club game which has enabled the Fijian pack to take giant steps forward. They brought a Northern Hemisphere mentality with a South Seas twist to the first test and with it, provided the All Blacks with a much-needed practical demonstration of what lies ahead for them this year.
The French, in beating Australia on Tuesday night, provided yet more evidence of Northern Hemisphere superiority in the art of manipulating the breakdown to suit their needs.
Australia couldn't adapt to the speed at which the French had a body over the top of the tackled player, hands on the ball.
France were as smart as they were physical and they won the game on the back of the penalties they forced because of their superior breakdown work.
The Wallabies struggled, too, with the French pick and drive work, which was dynamic and destructive and further illustration of how the best northern sides are taking forward play to new levels.
The All Blacks, who have said they want to return to being the world's number one team by the end of this year, have been given a clear message that their success in achieving that goal will be determined by their ability to get up to speed at the tackled ball.
It's not an area where it could be said they are suffering endemic deficiencies. It's more accurate to say they haven't found the consistency they need in that area – that, perhaps, 18 months of mostly playing each other with a little transtasman exposure and two tests against the Pumas, has not demanded that the breakdown be a high priority.
But the realisation should be dawning on the players – and have been confirmed to the All Blacks coaching staff – that the breakdown is the epicentre of test football now.
It is the highest priority area to get right and, to get it right, the process is multi-faceted. It's not a one-dimensional skill.
To be effective at the breakdown, teams have to carry the ball at the right height, with an ability to hit the collision on their terms. Support players have to be quick, aware, and technically excellent to clean out the first defenders before they can take a strong body position. The whole process appears to come more naturally to the northern teams.
If the balance of power is to shift south, the All Blacks have to take their game in this area beyond the benchmark set by the north.