The All Blacks have been delivered a painful but potentially valuable lesson by the Springboks. The key for them now once they digest their first defeat by the old enemy in New Zealand since 2009 is how they learn from it.
This was a gut-wrenching loss in a test they had many opportunities in the final minutes to win, and there will be scrutiny on referee Nigel Owens, who ignored a offside message from one of his assistants as the clocked ticked over 82 minutes.
The voice in Owens' ear as the All Blacks attacked the Boks relentlessly said, "nine and eight offside". For whatever reason, the experienced Welshman ignored the advice. Had he awarded the penalty it would have been in front of the posts and a near certain three points for a dramatic All Blacks win.
Speaking of goalkicking, we might need to have a conversation about Beauden Barrett's. He missed four, three of which were from relatively easy angles, including his conversion attempt for Ardie Savea's late try which would have levelled the score, and at no time appeared to consider handing the tee to his little brother Jordie.
A draw would have left a sour taste but it's better than a loss and after their comeback it would have been a minor triumph.
Down 14 points just after halftime and then seeing Aphiwe Dyantyi reply straight away to Rieko Ioane's second try to extend their lead from seven to 12 points, the All Blacks were in too deep against a side which just had one of those nights.
Their 36 points are the most by a side playing against the All Blacks in New Zealand. Their coach Rassie Erasmus bemoaned their wastefulness recently in their defeat to Argentina, but here they made the most of everything and they were effectively gifted two – one from Jordie Barrett's quick throw-in and one from Anton Lienert-Brown's intercept.
In those cases, and others, the All Blacks famed ambition was in danger of counting against them.
Whereas the All Blacks' skill execution let them down far too often at a dry Westpac Stadium, just about everything the Boks tried turned to gold in the second half. And while Rieko Ioane scored two tries to take his tally to 18 in 18 tests, there was a suspicion that he tried to do too much as his side became increasingly desperate.
The All Blacks made more mistakes in one night than they have in the entire Rugby Championship this year; kick-off receipts went awry, players in black were pushed too easily into touch, especially down Ioane's wing, silly penalties were conceded – especially Scott Barrett's on the stroke of halftime which allowed the Boks to take a 24-17 lead to the break.
Hooker Codie Taylor was superb, as was replacement fullback Damian McKenzie when he came on. Savea added thrust as usual. But the All Blacks lacked a little direction when it counted and, after three bonus point victories for the All Blacks in three tests, and now a painful defeat, the Rugby Championship stays alive.