From the outside looking in it seems the Silver Ferns have not improved.
The reality is not quite so bleak but a second, successive defeat to England by the record-equalling 13 goal margin, this one in Liverpool to open the northern Quad Series following defeat in Auckland last September, does not reflect well.
For half this match the Ferns threatened to turn the page on 2018's horrors, only to capitulate in the third quarter and give up a 10 goal lead.
There were bright moments; shooters Maria Folau (32/29) and Ekenasio (12/13) made progress but troubling midcourt problems persist and Pulse defender Karin Burger getting sin binned for two minutes in the final quarter sure didn't help.
"In the changing room we were warned about that in regards to what may possibly happen and we need to be smart," Ferns coach Noeline Taurua said after the 54-41 defeat. "The warning happening and we never adjusted fast enough.
"To end like that and to have a sending off is not good for us."
For sure, England are now a consistent, quality, experienced outfit; this their fourth straight win over the Ferns. They continue to suggest the tide of international netball could be shifting north.
The Commonwealth Games champions have their sights firmly set on their home World Cup in July.
So do the Ferns. But for them it still looks a rather daunting prospect.
"It's not the way we wanted to start 2019 ... we've just got to keep working, improving, progressing."
Searching for answers with the game running away, Taurua used all 12 squad members, handing test debuts to 21-year-old midcourter Kimiora Poi at the end of the second quarter and defender Erena Mikaere in the third.
Newly confirmed captain Laura Langman stressed the need for patience with this group.
"Our vision is July, 2019, and we want to expose ourselves as much as we can," Langman said.
"You've got to give England credit, they are a classy side. When we do something they can counteract it - that's the level we want to get to.
"We're here to weather the storm and we're not going to get put off with losses like that," Langman said.
Along with snaffling more defensive ball, Taurua identified the failure to execute on attack when being worked over physically on the body as a major work-on.
Sam Sinclair in particular, from centre, struggled to cope with Serena Guthrie but she was not alone.
"Our centre pass is one area which is very simple because we get the ball to start off with but we're quite isolated taking the ball to the shooting end," Taurua said.
Having set a target of two wins from three in this series the Ferns must now regroup fast before facing Australia on Sunday (NZT) in London.
The Diamonds battled early to get past South Africa - after beginning with non-starters - before comfortably emerging 62-45.
But Australia are missing star shooter and captain Caitlin Bassett due to a fractured forearm.
"It is always going to be huge against Australia and knowing I've put it out there with regards to two from three but the only way we can go is up," said Taurua. "It's another opportunity to improve. We've just got keep on moving on."