If the All Blacks selectors were subject to Hollywood's rules on how to make a blockbuster, these next five weeks would be career-defining for Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga.
There's certainly been an unwitting compliance to a traditional, build-the-suspense storyline to pave the way for an epic showdown and definitive end where the chief protagonists clash and one emerges triumphant.
This drama has been five years in the making, beginning when Barrett was carving everyone up between 2016 and 2018, before he was forced to switch to fullback for the greater good of the national rugby team's strategic needs.
It was a shift that opened the door to Mo'unga, the new kid in town who took his chance to establish himself as the rising force; make a convincing case he was the younger, modern play-maker the All Blacks needed.
Sensing he was being squeezed out or in need of some means to reinvent himself at least, Barrett took himself first to Auckland and a new contract with the Blues before a stint in Japan to regain his pass-and-catch sharpness and then return to New Zealand to mount a bid to take back his treasured All Blacks No 10 shirt from the increasingly polished and popular Mo'unga.
Babies and quarantine restrictions have added to the drama, allowing both protagonists separate, uncontested periods in the No 10 shirt this year, but now, as the All Blacks head to the United States and Europe for a five-test tour, the showdown is coming.
Everything has been setting up for this – the big moment when All Blacks coach Ian Foster has to choose between the two.
The point where he has to anoint one his first-five king and cast the other to the bench.
But reality and Hollywood are not in fact destined to meet and if there is indeed ever going to be a point when Foster makes a definitive stance on his respective No 10s and declares a hard one and two pecking order, it's not going to be in the next month.
The day of reckoning can wait. The All Blacks have to again play five tests in five consecutive weekends and with only two specialist No 10s in the squad, Barrett and Mo'unga are going to share the workload on this coming tour.
It won't necessarily be an equal split, but Foster, two years out from the World Cup, is not going to be in any rush to make a hard commitment to either man being his preferred No 10.
Maybe this time next year he'll be more inclined to make that definitive call, but for now, he'll most likely treat the next five tests as an opportunity to assess how both players are responding to specific directives on where they respectively need to improve.
The race for the No 10 jersey won't end this tour, but it's important to acknowledge that it is a race, one in which Barrett may have edged ahead, despite not necessarily producing indisputably commanding performances against South Africa.
The rod with which Barrett's critics beat him is that he's uncomfortable playing against defensive linespeed.
He's a long-limbed, lean athlete whose body shape to some degree explains why his passing can be laboured and to an even greater extent, why he can be flat-footed and static in the face of an aggressive, rush defence.
Mo'unga is smaller, compact and nimble, brilliant at moving laterally which is often an essential skill when defenders are flying up, and he's technically neater and swifter in the art of distribution and generally more comfortable adopting a shallow alignment where he takes possession of the ball close to the gainline.
But it's too simplistic to extrapolate these traits into a compelling argument that Mo'unga is the better No 10 when confronted by defensive linespeed.
What Barrett's critics miss is that in the games he has struggled to impose himself against a rush defence – against Ireland in 2018 and South Africa on the Gold Coast – so too has Mo'unga when he's come off the bench to replace him.
Mo'unga may be better physically equipped to deal with linespeed and in possession of a slicker, more task-aligned skill-set, but he appears to suffer from what could be described as a saintly complex where he feels it's his responsibility alone to deliver all the attacking answers.
His tendency, as he showed again on the Gold Coast, is to back himself to buzz about in the heavy traffic and find a safe passage through it, but the net result is typically that his distribution dries up, his vision narrows and he runs into the same dead ends as Barrett.
Why Barrett may be slightly favoured at the moment is because he's shown a greater understanding of what the art of play-making entails and specifically how it pertains to countering a rush defence.
He may lack the fluidity and agility of Mo'unga, but he counters that with his greater appreciation of how and when to adjust his alignment and pose defences with a greater variety of questions.
His performance in Perth would rank as the best by an All Blacks No 10 this season because of the way he sporadically dropped into a deeper position when he felt the Wallaby defence was dominating and turned them with his kicking game, while being prepared at other times to take the ball, at pace, on the gainline and offload out of the weak tackles he invariably forced.
He kept the Wallabies defence guessing, astutely changing his depth and his option-taking to ensure he mostly played with time and space.
And the art of being a first-five largely comes down to just that – of subtly mixing up the attacking alignment.
It's about reading the defence to know when to stand deep, when to take the ball flat and how to effectively marry pass, run and kick to those alignments.
Both Barrett and Mo'unga would currently be classified as works in progress, with the former, probably due to his greater test experience in the role, the more consistent at delivering the right mix at the right times.
That status is unlikely to change for either this year and the big Hollywood moment where Foster has to declare his allegiance to one or other will continue to be the stuff of fiction for a while yet.