Now we come to the exacting part of the World Cup, where the minds are screaming as much as weary frames.
These are the final stages when the tough are asked to get even more rugged.
As the All Blacks regrouped yesterday, they listened to a brief address from 1987 captain David Kirk, who spoke about their last push to World Cup glory 24 years ago. There was advice and guidance for everyone, assistant coach Wayne Smith said.
In previous times, the 1987 coach Sir Brian Lochore had addressed the squad and his side was held in high esteem by the current players.
"Any time when you get to this stage in a tournament in Super rugby or Heineken Cup or World Cup it is about will. It is about the strength of your will," Smith said.
"Tournaments throw up all sorts of things - injuries, selection - and you can't control any of that and it is the same for the other team.
"So it is not who you have got in the team, it is what you have got inside you, I think, that counts at this point and that's what will win it."
It was improper to make too many assumptions about the Wallabies they would face in Sunday's semifinal at Eden Park. The All Blacks and Wallabies respected each other, they were regular foes and the game would be a massive encounter, he said.
The All Blacks had some ideas about how the game would pan out and how they wanted to perform but, as always, sides had to assess what was thrown up at them and Smith knew the Wallabies would bring everything they had to the semifinal just as the All Blacks would.
Five-eighths Quade Cooper might not have been sharp so far but he had always been a problem for the All Blacks.
"He is mercurial, he is dangerous, if he has a really good day then you are in trouble so we have a lot of respect for him," Smith said.
Any player could have a bad game. Zac Guildford had suffered from that and then had a blinder against Canada.
"Quality players come right pretty quickly and you have got to respect that and you have got to respect him [Cooper] and I have no doubt that he will be tough for us at the weekend because he is a hard man to mark."
The All Blacks had lost Mils Muliaina and Daniel Carter from their leadership group. But others like Piri Weepu, Jimmy Cowan, Conrad Smith and Richard Kahui had shown they could take up those responsibilities.
There were others in the group who had risen in the hierarchy and new faces who had been included.
The All Blacks were at a stage in the World Cup where a lot of the players were under physical pressure and clearly that was going to be a significant factor in the next two games, Smith said.
"So hold all tickets, everyone is in with a show."