Noeline Taurua is fully aware the Silver Ferns have significant ground to close on their closest rivals but, six months out from the Commonwealth Games, she remains confident that can be achieved in limited time.
Taurua did not shy away from the reality of where her side sits after watching the Ferns finish third in the northern Quad Series following defeats to Australia (53-39) and England (49-46) and two victories against South Africa.
"I would probably rate us at the moment between a five to six out of 10 so there's a huge amount of improvement needed – probably more from individuals and what they need to do to improve their skill sets and also be confident that they know they can do their job," Taurua said from London after the Ferns held on to sneak past South Africa by one goal in the playoff for third this morning.
"There are gaps that have been highlighted, especially when we're under pressure. We'll look at our overall strategy and what areas we need to tweak to ensure we combat the opposition, so there's a lot of work for us to do behind the scenes and in the clubs in ANZ."
While there is no sense of panic at this point Taurua put her squad on notice by stating not all of the 14-strong Quad Series squad will make the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. That squad was missing several established figures and included two rookies - Mystics shooter Filda Vui and Stars midcourter Mila Reuleu-Buchanan, the latter debuting at centre in the first match against South Africa.
With the likes of influential captain Ameliaanne Ekenasio, midcourters Kimiora Poi, Maddy Gordon and Michaela Sokolich-Beatson and former skipper Katrina Rore to return through the domestic season, Taurua knows she will face selection headaches when she holds Commonwealth Games trials at the conclusion of the ANZ season.
"There's probably at least another 10 players at home. There's quite a few that will come through the ANZ and put the pressure on the incumbents and that's a good thing.
"The people over here we have I don't believe will be the final 12 for the Commonwealth Games so it puts a lot of emphasis and importance on the ANZ and what individuals need to do to consistently put their hand up week-to-week.
"We've got a lot of options in all areas of the court and built depth so it's going to be very competitive as to who that final 12 is going to be, and that's only good for the Silver Ferns. I'm looking forward to seeing who those final selections are going to be."
Before travelling north Taurua was open about prioritising performances over results as she sought to expose rookies and reintroduce defenders Phoenix Karaka and Kayla Johnson following their babies.
With the Games firmly in mind, Taurua now has a better perspective about where players sit.
At the shooting end Tiana Metuarau and Grace Nweke gained more experience but Ekenasio's absence continues to be telling.
"It highlighted the inexperience in that unit. The only way you get experience is by getting out there. Players are now clearer about what they need to do. It's one of those positions you need to be able to shoot under pressure.
"We've got the youngest shooting circle so I'm proud of what they've done over here because I know it's been a rude awakening but it's highlighted what they need to work on and given them a taste of what international netball is all about."
Three years ago the Ferns charted a similar path, losing to Australia and England and defeating South Africa in extra time in the Quad Series, before going on to claim the world title in Liverpool.
At that stage Taurua turned to a core of veterans – Laura Langman, Casey Kopua, Maria Folau – to lead the team to their upset triumph.
This time around the rebuild appears vastly more challenging as Australia set the bar after trouncing England 58-46 in the Quad Series final in the last time the top teams will meet before the Games.
Taurua, though, remains upbeat about her ability to transform her side's prospects alongside the domestic teams.
"I believe it is a lot of time for us. We've been working with the franchises for over a couple of years now and building those relationships because we feel the clubs are our competitive advantage. We'll be working closely with personnel within the clubs to ensure overall intensity and performance is better than it has been in previous years.
"I'm confident in the planning, strategy and relationships. I feel we can shift and move if we're smart over the next three or four months."