By Jim Tucker of The Courier-Mail
The greatest smokescreen perpetuated in Australian rugby is that if the Wallabies can't beat the All Blacks then no one possibly can.
Rarely has that been more erroneous because, over the past two years, every top Test team has done a better job of getting closer to the most dominant world No.1 in any footy code.
That's the grating truth that Wallabies coach Michael Cheika must cop on the chin when trying to emphasise the right cues for his 26-point underdogs in Dunedin on Saturday night.
It's not just the epic effort by the British and Irish Lions and their superbly-drilled defence to knock off the All Blacks in Wellington last month.
Since Cheika's men beat the All Blacks in Sydney in 2015, Ireland have upset the Kiwis while South Africa (two points), France (five), Argentina (10) and Wales (14) have lost by the narrowest margins.
Ireland's feisty back row, Argentina's off-loading game and abrasive pack, the flakiness of the French and the stubborn, goalkicking game of the Springboks at the 2015 World Cup were productive strengths.
The Wallabies have lost by an average of 24 points in the six Tests since, including the debacle of Bledis-low One.
Everyone is slating the appalling defence, the poor spacing and the haphazard connections that allowed two All Blacks to score a try against a zigzag line of five Wallabies.
That's all true but perhaps the deeper reason is one that has dogged the Wallabies for years.
The defensive line might have been in better order had the Wallabies forwards slowed down the All Blacks ball at the breakdown for even a few seconds longer.
No Kiwi opponent ever finishes a Test and says the Wallabies turned the breakdown into a bunfight and slowed their ball and ability to attack.
That 51-20 meltdown against the All Blacks in Auckland in 2014 and so many others all have the same theme.
The Wallabies hold the ball with some promise for a few phases or 30m before a ball is spilt or poor pass thrown.
Blink. The All Blacks are over for a try in a shorter time than it takes Aaron Smith to wag his tongue in the haka.
There is way too little grind-and-regroup mentality, too little slowing of All Black breakouts, too few bunfights and no one scragging Smith at halfback to mess up the ball flow to the backs.
Cheika played in the back row but surprisingly has too little respect for combinations there or limited options, which is certainly true of the void at No.8.
He has used 12 players in back-row formations over the past two years and even the best Hooper-Pocock-Fardy trio was fundamentally flawed.
There were Wallabies sides in the 1970s and early '80s that weren't the best in the world but had the best, most productive back rows.
Over to you Michael Hooper, Ned Hanigan and Sean McMahon. Don't play like strangers in Dunedin.
Last six tests
All Blacks 41 Australia 13, Auckland, 2015
All Blacks 34 Australia 17, Twickenham, 2015
All Blacks 42 Australia 8, Sydney, 2016
All Blacks 29 Australia 9, Wellington, 2016
All Blacks 37 Australia 10, Auckland, 2016
All Blacks 54 Australia 34, Sydney, 2017