The Black Caps' 12-match ODI winning streak against Pakistan has been snapped, and it could hardly have been more convincing.
A six-wicket victory with 57 balls to spare has seen Pakistan level the series at 1-1 ahead of Monday morning's decider, and they were remarkably untroubled in doing so.
Set a measly 210 to win, the only scare Pakistan received was when opener Imam ul-Haq had to retire hurt after being struck on the helmet by a Lockie Ferguson bouncer. The dazed Imam went off in the ambulance for a concussion check, but that only brought the prodigious Babar Azam to the wicket, and he teamed up with Fakhar Zaman to punish the Black Caps bowlers.
By that time though, there was already little doubt about the result, after Pakistan expertly tied down the Black Caps batsmen in a superb display of bowling on the restrictive Abu Dhabi wicket.
"We never really fired a shot," lamented Black Caps captain Kane Williamson.
"There was a bit of scrapping which got us a total, but it certainly wasn't enough on that surface. Today we were certainly outplayed."
Ross Taylor was the only form of resistance for the visitors, adding to his 80 from the opening ODI with an unbeaten 86 from 120 balls, but he didn't get the support required as only two other batsmen reached 20, neither in quick time.
Neither George Worker (28 off 50 balls) nor Henry Nicholls (33 off 63) looked particularly at ease in their time at the crease, but both batsmen were also put in difficult situations as failures from Colin Munro (13) and the duo of Williamson and Tom Latham (one run apiece) put the Black Caps in early strife.
To be fair, there was bad luck – Williamson was run out by a deflection while backing up at the non-striker's end - but there was nothing lucky about the rest of Pakistan's bowling performance.
Wickets at regular intervals put a squeeze on scoring, with 18-year-old Shaheen Afridi superb in taking 4-38, but once again, the Black Caps' biggest problems came while facing spin.
The New Zealand middle order had no answers to Shadab Khan (1-25 from 10 overs) and the under-fire Mohammad Hafeez (1-31 from 10), with a remarkable 21-over drought between boundaries putting Pakistan firmly on the front foot.
Williamson acknowledged his side will need to improve their performance against spin in the decider.
"I think in hindsight we'll address some parts of our innings that we'll definitely want to improve on. It's important we make those improvements looking ahead to Dubai, because the surfaces have those similarities and spin is a big part of the innings."
While a partnership between Taylor and Nicholls added 75 runs, it came off 129 balls, and when Nicholls departed, Taylor struggled to find the strike, or a partner capable of significantly boosting the run rate.
209-9 was the end result, and it was never likely to be enough. This time, there was no magic from Trent Boult, though Ferguson impressed again by taking three wickets, including a freak dismissal of Shoaib Malik, who smashed a pull shot into the shoulder of Nicholls at short leg, with the ball ballooning into the air for Ish Sodhi to take the catch.
However, by then the game was already won - the work of Fakhar (88 off 88) and Babar (46 off 50) had already created a comfortable chase, and set up a tantalising decider.