Amazing what a bit of gold can do for the confidence.
Take the Black Sticks, winners of the title at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast last month.
It was a brilliant success, capped off with a 4-1 win over Australia in the final which must rank among their best performances in recent years.
They face Japan in the not-so-bright lights of Cromwell today, in the opening match of a tri-series also involving the Aussies. It is the lead-up to the World Cup tournament in London in July.
Before the Gold Coast, New Zealand would have gone there optimistic of a solid performance. They are, after all, ranked No 4 in the world, one ahead of the Aussies and eight better than Japan. But now the outlook has been buffed up.
"For us, it was a mental hurdle," experienced goalkeeper Sally Rutherford reflected on the Gold Coast.
"We got over not one but two at the Games. We won our first shootout, against England, which was pretty cool and put us into the final, and we won our first final and the gold. It was a double whammy in terms of our confidence.
"That will be huge for us. That was what seemed to be holding us back. Now we go to the World Cup with tails up, but also a target on our backs. We've got to deal with that pressure of being slightly more of a favourite."
Rutherford is one of only four players, by her count, to have been in the squad when Mark Hager took over as coach, the others being Stacey Michelsen, Sam Harrison - who took a couple of years out along the way - and Ella Gunson. It was a special time for them but, with no disrespect to the Gold Coast champions, there have probably been better Black Sticks squads of recent times, which included the likes of world class Kayla Whitelock, and top class players such as Gemma McCaw and Emily Naylor who could not get over the line on the biggest occasions.
"We were the 18 lucky ones. It just happened it was this group that finally put it together."
Rutherford, whose sporting prowess extended to representing New Zealand at lacrosse, has played hockey since she was about seven, growing up in Hamilton. Early on, her eyes were drawn to the goalkeeper's role.
That started for the simple reason that "it looked kind of cool, a bit different. All goalkeepers are inherently attention seekers," she laughed. "Individuals in a team sport.
"As a 10 year old, I thought that looked awesome, I'll give that a go. Also I liked it because I didn't have to wear a skirt on the field, which I hated. It is a position where you do get both ends of the spectrum quickly. You get all the accolades and can impact the game, but you also have to deal with the fact you could screw up the game. You get both extremes and that's part of the love of it."
Rutherford duelled with Bianca Russell and Beth Jurgeleit when she cracked the national squad in 2009. Now she's battling the younger Grace O'Hanlon.
"It's been quite good. She certainly pushed me to go the extra mile and not get comfortable."
Now 36, the lecturer with degrees in physiology and bio-engineering, is eyeing the World Cup. Beyond that, let's see.
It's easy for Rutherford, whose 155 caps are a record for a New Zealand goalkeeper, to pick her favourite performances, ones where she could reflect back on and figure she couldn't do much better.
The quarter and semifinal wins over world No 3 Argentina and England in the World League final in Auckland last November, which after a sluggish start to the event, got New Zealand into the final on home turf and filled the stands at North Harbour Stadium in the process. She conceded just one goal against world class opposition over the two games.
And not to forget the semi and final on the Gold Coast.
Rather than running alongside her teammates, Rutherford's viewing angle is from the back and she is unequivocal - Michelsen is the best Black Stick she's played with, Whitelock not far behind.
"Stacey is an absolutely classy player, she's got amazing stick skills, has speed and vision and she's a pretty good defender, which I like.
"Kayla's leadership ability was amazing and her style was get out there and do it and everyone will follow. She's someone I hugely admire for the way she handled herself on and off the field."
The game is faster now than when Rutherford first made the national team. The auto pass rule - wherein players can immediately start dribbling from a free hit, or sideline entry, instead of having to make a pass to a teammate with the ball stationary - has changed the stop-start nature of the game.
"Players are getting more athletic, goalkeeping has evolved to be more than just standing between the sticks. You get involved in the scrappy stuff."
Back to that World Cup.
"The Gold Coast showed us if we put it all out there, keep working hard, we've got a very good chance of getting a medal."
We'll see, but they have opened the possibility and there's no doubt it would be an achievement of real significance.