After the All Blacks' final test at home this season, coach Steve Hansen has rated their overall performances in New Zealand as a "B plus" or "A minus", saying that the improving depth on the reserves bench was particularly evident in the thrashing against the Springboks.
The series draw against the British & Irish Lions remains a disappointment and their victories over the Wallabies and Pumas in Dunedin and New Plymouth respectively have included elements of inconsistency, but Hansen spoke of his happiness at the progression of his side before this big victory at QBE Stadium and was vindicated during it.
"Probably a B plus or an A minus," Hansen said. "We drew a series we probably should have won. We were behind only three minutes in the whole series but we didn't score enough tries and play enough rugby.
"We played pretty good against Australia... we showed composure. In the early part of the tournament I think the composure was outstanding; even against Argentina with a young team on the field when we could have crumbled after going behind at halftime.
"They get a big plus for that. The team is growing and the belief is growing. We saw tonight some young players - I think of Ofa [Tu'ungafasi] and his performance. He's starting to really look like a test tighthead prop.
"Codie Taylor had the opportunity when Dane got injured [during Lions series] and grew an arm and a leg. He comes on now and it's like we've lost nothing and you're talking about Dane Coles being the best hooker in the world. Codie's coming on and doing a similar job and that gives you a lot of confidence as a team."
All of Hansen's players impressed at Albany, including a reserves bench which added real impact. Lock Scott Barrett's performance after replacing Liam Squire (who suffered what Hansen described as a relatively minor head knock, was one of several standouts).
And in wing Rieko Ioane they have an outside back who is rapidly becoming one of the most dangerous in the world.
"He's become a crowd favourite," Hansen said. "Every time he touches the ball the whole place lights up. He has the ability to really scoot. He's a big man as well and he's got footwork. He's an exciting young man... he's not the finished article but there's plenty to work with."
Of his relatively inexperienced back three as a whole, Hansen said: "They started nervously but as the game went on they grew and grew. I thought Rieko was outstanding and Nehe [Milner-Skudder] took the chances given to him. Damian [McKenzie] is that busy wee fella at the back isn't he - you don't know what he's going to do when he gets the ball."
The All Blacks have a week off before travelling to Buenos Aires to play Argentina and then Cape Town for the return fixture against the Boks, a test even their most ardent supporters might be apprehensive about.
The Wallabies await in Brisbane for the third Bledisloe Cup test in October before All Blacks play away tests against France, Scotland and Wales in November.
Boks coach Allister Coetzee travelled to New Zealand with confidence but had little answers after this record defeat. He said: "I am disappointed. The players are hurting and it's definitely not through a lack of effort... we couldn't break them, they were just too good."