It's happened before, and will happen again, compelling figures missing World Cup selection.
Steve Hansen and All Blacks selectors Ian Foster and Grant Fox have shown their many sides in naming their 31-man squad for Japan.
Hansen has been ruthless, following the team-first mantra, by culling centurion tighthead Owen Franks at the 11th hour.
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He has been empathetic in his awareness of Liam Squire's ongoing challenges, leaving the rugged Tasman hitman on replacement duties despite the obvious temptation to rush his game-changing physical presence back in the six jersey.
Hansen also took his usual punt on rookie Luke Jacobson, the one-test Waikato blindside and former national under-20s captain, to complete the loose forward mix which now needs an enforcer to stand up and command that vacant role.
Of those to miss cut, most souls will probably feel for dynamic Hurricanes midfielder Ngani Laumape.
Franks won two World Cup titles but the latter stages of New Zealand career (he is set to join Northampton Saints under former Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd) have been plagued by long-term Achilles and shoulder injury comebacks which robbed him of mobility, impact, strength during the past year.
Taking five props to Japan, Hansen made the difficult decision by deeming Franks does not warrant a place after he was exposed in the recent record Perth defeat and struggled to replicate prior form this season.
While injuries may yet open the door it won't soften the blow for Laumape to note he joins a group of other classy midfielders to suffer similar fate on the eve of rugby's pinnacle event.
Ma'a Nonu evolved to be considered the best second five-eighths New Zealand has produced.
But back in 2007, when often used on the wing, Nonu missed World Cup selection and almost jumped for a crack at league, only to then find his true home at No 12, starting there for next successive global successes.
Eight years later, ahead of the last World Cup, Ryan Crotty was overlooked in favour of Nonu, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams and Malakai Fekitoa.
This time it's Crotty and Williams to have faith installed in their corner at Laumape's expense.
Crotty will make his return from a two-month broken thumb absence for Canterbury this weekend. Providing he comes through that relatively unscathed, and probably the Tongan test the following week in Hamilton as he needs game time, Crotty's first World Cup will be his last act before he becomes one of many to continue his career in Japan.
With young form midfielders Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown locked in much earlier, the question ultimately came down to whether Williams would prove his fitness in time to push fellow specialist second-five Laumape out.
The All Blacks felt Williams did enough in the draw with the Springboks and dominant win over the Wallabies at Eden Park where he scored a try to prove his credentials, though whether the 34-year-old's body now lasts the distance remains to be seen.
Once again Laumape impressed with the Hurricanes this year, scoring 13 tries in 16 games and averaging four tackle breaks per outing. He has every reason to feel disappointment, frustration even after signing a two-year contract extension this season.
Laumape has crossed eight times in 13 tests, with only six of those starting appearances. In short, he has a phenomenal strike-rate, and pace to burn.
The former Warrior hasn't always looked comfortable with test rugby's myriad demands, and elements of his game remain a work in progress, but he often starts in experimental All Blacks teams and would undoubtedly prove lethal off the bench at the World Cup.
Any other nation would snap up his punch and power from No 12.
Williams, meanwhile, has managed 38 games over the past four years and will now attend his third World Cup, having featured in a limited capacity in 2011 and played influential hands in 2015, particularly in the opening comeback against the Pumas and the final triumph over the Wallabies at Twickenham after replacing Conrad Smith at halftime.
With someone of Laumape's quality excluded, four years on the All Blacks will now hope Williams can repay the faith and produce similar feats when it matters most in Japan.
Likewise Crotty when called upon.
At 26, time is on Laumape's side. If he is patient enough, and there are no guarantees of that in the current climate, he, like Nonu and Crotty, may get another World Cup chance.
Right now, though, such distant prospects offers little solace.