Predictions one week into the Super Rugby season are doomed but at the risk of writing the Highlanders off before their season begins, it already appears evident two New Zealand sides are in a different class to their compatriots.
Upsets are inevitable in the New Zealand conference but anything other than the Crusaders and Chiefs contesting pole position seems about as likely as Eddie Jones ever biting his tongue.
One outing from the Crusaders was enough to confirm their favouritism for a fourth straight title and while the Chiefs battled to overcome the competitive Blues at Eden Park, they did so bringing many dead-cert starters - Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Aaron Cruden, Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown - off the bench.
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Longer term this season, there's plenty more to come from the Chiefs. Wait until Damian McKenzie eventually takes the field.
Scroll through the respective rosters of the Crusaders and Chiefs and you can pick out any number of contributing factors for their projected supremacy this season.
Rookie wing Leicester Faingaanuku's immediate impression against the Waratahs on his home ground speaks to the ridiculous depth of the Crusaders' outside backs that also boasts Sevu Reece, David Havili, George Bridge, Will Jordan and Manasa Mataele.
Braydon Ennor laid down an early marker from centre on what is certain to be his fast-tracked path to the All Blacks.
For the Chiefs, Lachlan Boshier's relentless work-rate dominated the loose forward scrap against the Blues and hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho proved he is ready to assume responsibility in Nathan Harris' absence with destructive carries, four tackle breaks, two tries and nine of 10 lineout throws.
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The Stormers, Brumbies and Jaguares, after their loss in last year's final, seem best placed of the overseas challengers but it's already impossible to overlook the Crusaders and Chiefs from New Zealand.
It's why their match in Hamilton this week offers an early gauge as to not only who leads this year's title charge, but which individuals will kick on and force their way into Ian Foster's maiden All Blacks squad.
Make no mistake, Kiwi derbies are virtual trial matches where outplaying opposites bank double points.
The difference separating the Chiefs and Crusaders from their New Zealand counterparts this season is the strength of their respective spines – positions 2, 8, 9, 10, 15. And, more specifically, their favoured directors.
Starting rookie first five-eighth Kaleb Trask and bringing Cruden off the bench was a masterstroke from the Chiefs last week.
Cruden orchestrated the second half comeback from 19-5 down – setting up the match-winning try with his casual, ghosting run where he beat one defender, sucked in another then offloaded to Shaun Stevenson who put Solomon Alaimalo in at the corner.
It was classic Cruden, highlighting the immense value he will bring throughout this campaign. Imagine his influence over a full 80 minutes.
Give him this much time and space and he will burn you every time. Just as important, though, is the way Weber inside him skipped forward runners to pick the right option.
This is one area the Blues continue to struggle. While Cruden knocked over his dropped kick and controlled proceedings, Stephen Perofeta twice attempted miracle offloads after making breaks that led to turnovers.
Halfback also remains a weak point, with Jonathan Ruru's propensity to run away from support often leaving him isolated.
Problems at nine and 10 aren't the Blues' alone, however.
Hurricanes halfback Jamie Booth threw one costly intercept in Cape Town after replacing TJ Perenara, and Fletcher Smith failed to grab his first chance in post Beauden Barrett era.
In their first match of the season against the Sharks in Dunedin this week, the Highlanders have handed Mitchell Hunt the gear stick, with one-test All Black Josh Ioane shifting to second-five.
This experiment will give the Highlanders dual playmaking and kicking options, but also compromises their size and defensive ability.
While the Blues, Hurricanes and Highlanders find themselves mixing and matching in search of their best combinations, there is a sense of certainty about the Crusaders and Chiefs.
Mitchell Drummond and Bryn Hall's one-two halfback punch has been central to the Crusaders' success under Scott Robertson, and in his first dig of the season Richie Mo'unga picked up where he left off with his pin-point cross-field kicks.
It's just one reason why this week's Chiefs-Crusaders dual should offer the first hint to New Zealand's Super Rugby superiority.