The All Blacks and Springboks will head to the World Cup neck and neck – their opening match of the global showpiece poised on a knife-edge.
Three tests these two great foes have contested in the past year – both scoring 82 points. One win each, one draw, leaves the Boks with growing belief, and the All Blacks with plenty to ponder.
Brodie Retallick's dislocated shoulder – suffered after a nasty Rudolph Snyman collision at the ruck - will only enhance nerves.
The All Blacks are not exactly flush with world-class locking depth, and there is simply no replacing a player of his influence.
Top-echelon quality will come back into the All Blacks for that World Cup assignment.
Sam Cane and Ardie Savea did not feature in Wellington tonight; Dane Coles and Aaron Smith were left on the bench as Steve Hansen continues to experiment.
But if New Zealand wasn't already aware just how tense that opening match should be, they will be now.
The Boks are not to be underestimated.
Rassie Erasmus will be disappointed his side failed to capitalise on an error-riddled All Blacks performance.
The Boks had it all their own way in the first half especially, and yet after one Beauden Barrett break, somehow the visitors found themselves behind by one point at half time.
Erasmus will not be overly despondent, though. A late try from live wire halfback Herschel Jantjies and the clutch Handre Pollard conversion to secure the draw will give the Boks the faith they need heading to Japan.
Defeating the All Blacks on home soil is no easy feat, and so Erasmus will certainly be the more pleased of the respective coaches. The fist pumps in Boks' box said as much.
Psychologically, this result will boost the Boks far more than it will the All Blacks.
Outside worries for Retallick, the All Blacks have plenty to mull over.
Their lack of cohesion and disjointed nature early in this pre-World Cup campaign is not overly surprising given the number of changes Hansen has made.
He is not one to stress but expectations in terms of simple catch pass execution will no doubt be reinforced before the Bledisloe battles commence.
The first half performance from the All Blacks was one of their worst in recent memory.
They had eight turnovers on attack in the first 21 minutes with Rieko Ioane, Kieran Read, Joe Moody, Ben Smith and Sonny Bill Williams, who had his first carry stripped, all guilty of errors.
Faf de Klerk's box-kicking in the swirling Wellington wind caused problems for Smith and Ioane, and the Springboks halfback also exposed the All Blacks on the short side with one cut out ball that had Cheslin Kolbe in space.
Some mistakes can be attributed to rust, given this was the first test of the year for 11 of the All Blacks starting team, but it was far too many errors from a team of their experience and quality.
The much-hyped twin playmaker experiment did not gel either.
Richie Mo'unga has been brilliant off the bench for the All Blacks at times but he is yet to nail his starting role in test rugby.
This third crack did not begin well – two charge downs hinting at nerves as the Crusaders playmaker struggled to settle. Mo'unga also missed a de Klerk grubber and it was fortunate Barrett was on hand to save the day.
Gradually, Mo'unga became more comfortable as the match progressed, stepping up to assume the kicking duties after two Barrett missed penalties and continuing to challenge the line, but there was still hesitation at times about whether he or Barrett should be at first receiver from second phase on.
From fullback, and particularly in the outside channels, Barrett's pace was a constant threat but he also brings those qualities from his favoured first five-eighth role.
Three tests and seven weeks out from the World Cup, the All Blacks will be keen to see rapid improvement if they are to persist with the unfamiliar Mo'unga-Barrett starting combination.
To be fair, building any form of rhythm proved difficult with constant errors blunting continuity.
Elsewhere Williams' first test for nine months, after his injury-plagued Super Rugby season, was a mixed bag but fitness permitting he can now be considered a World Cup lock.
The Boks found success targeting Williams' height into contact but they couldn't stop his skip ball which put Barrett on the outside for his break that set up Jack Goodhue's opening try - the only strike from the All Blacks.
TJ Perenara also struggled while lacking protection at the base but he showed his strength in these physical encounters with two breakdown turnovers.
The All Blacks made adjustments to get outside the Boks' rush defence in the second half - Coles' impact off the bench a major factor in this regard – but it wasn't enough to hold off this budding Boks side, one who must now be considered a genuine World Cup threat.