It was against Ireland 10 years ago that Sam Cane played his first 40 minutes in an All Blacks jersey and provided unambiguous proof that he was physically and mentally equipped to be a long-term test player.
Cane was just 20 when he came off the bench in Christchurch in 2012 and was a Steve Hansen selection gamble as his appearances for the Chiefs that year had been limited and sporadic to the point no one knew much about him.
But Hansen had seen enough during Super Rugby to be convinced that of all the emerging sevens in the country back then, Cane was the one that had the ability and temperament to not only handle test rugby but to possibly become captain in time.
Hansen's judgement was spot on, and Cane has grown into the player and the leader the former All Blacks coach thought he would be.
Yet here we are, 10 years on since that freezing night in Christchurch, and it seems half the nation at least are less certain about Cane now than they were before he made his test debut.
It makes no sense. It was understandable to have doubts about a little-known 20-year-old who'd barely played Super Rugby, but now that Cane has delivered such an overwhelming body of evidence in his 77 tests to state unequivocally that he is a world class openside and a natural and composed leader, to continue to question his credentials as so many do, alludes to there being either an element of ignorance or parochial blindness running through the country's fan base.
There is something preventing Cane from gaining the universal recognition his contribution and ability deserves and he now finds himself in a relatively tiny cohort of players who have delivered much and yet been enormously underappreciated.
Perhaps Reuben Thorne is the only other All Blacks captain who could relate to this, but even he would likely argue that the lack of public admiration for Cane makes no sense.
The great lament in rugby-land these past few years has been the fading physicality of the All Blacks: a creeping fear that the national team simply doesn't have the gladiatorial spirit of old, or the size, skills or desire to fully impose themselves.
To simultaneously fret about the ability of the All Blacks pack to stand up for itself while calling for Cane to be dropped, is as contradictory as it is daft.
Cane is a bruiser. A genuine hard nut whose shoulders make an impact. He tackles with purpose – always has – and his ability to knock a bit of wind out a ball carrier and make them that little bit wary is priceless.
Rugby players are all hard men until someone drives them into the turf and wheedles out the fakes, frauds and flat track bullies.
And in that sense, Cane is an interrogator of character and substance – someone who can expose a frailty in the opposition they had no idea was there.
He brings that fearlessness to the breakdown, too, and he tends to pick off the turnovers that few other players would have either the desire or core strength to pull off.
But it is wrong to paint him as a purely defensive player, because if there is one single part of his game that has improved out of sight in the last few years, it's his ability to use his footwork to enhance his ball-carrying.
In his inaugural season as All Blacks captain in 2020, he was New Zealand's player of the year and that was as much for his brilliance as an attacker as it was as a defender and the thing that can't get lost when evaluating Cane, is that his skill-set and temperament are better suited to international rugby than they are Super Rugby.
His natural game has greater value in the test arena where bone crunching tackles matter more as does his unflappable leadership.
And it's Cane's refusal to be flustered or give any indication that he's panicking that will be his greatest quality this week – one in which the All Blacks are having to deal with a Covid outbreak and a mini-drama of having to scramble for a training venue on Tuesday after Mt Smart became inaccessible due to a nearby fire.
There was Cane fronting the media pack at the Grammar Tec club in the Orakei Basin, exuding an easy-going manner that aligned with his insistence that the players and coaching team are rolling with the punches at the moment.
And he'll take that same calm and confidence to the field at Eden Park on Saturday night and no doubt, do exactly what he did 10 years ago in his first cap against Ireland, and prove himself as a test footballer.