Just a fortnight into Super Rugby Aotearoa seems a short time to make sweeping judgements about the tournament's future but that is exactly what the remaining salaried staff at the national body has to do.
The five-team, first-past-the-post format has been foisted upon the country by an unprecedented health and economic crisis but rugby, particularly Southern Hemisphere rugby, was in dire need of a reset before Covid-19 was a twinkle in the blind eyes of a beholden bat.
There are complex broadcast deals, geopolitical sporting blocs and commercial factors to disentangle but with each passing week it becomes clear that what New Zealanders want and what the burnt-out shell of Sanzaar can offer is poles apart.
In Australia, there seems to be a concerted campaign based presumably on inside knowledge that rugby's domestic future is a transtasman one, but that hope wilfully ignores the first rule of business: supply the market with what it wants.
There is scant evidence that fans in this part of the world want a cross-border competition based along old Sanzaar on even Anzac lines. That concept appears attractive only in the eyes of broadcasters and administrators – the two most important sets of eyes, yes, but ones that can no longer ignore reality.
Nobody watching this past fortnight said: "It would be great if the Waratahs were up next".
That is the reality.
Some of the great marketing and sales ploys in history are based on simple tricks of psychology and it is possible one is at play here: scarcity. It is a powerful tool. Our brains, which are hardwired like monkeys, fret when resources are thin. Our national sport disappeared during lockdown so it doesn't get more scarce than that.
When it reappeared we gorged on it not because we needed it, but because the chemical cocktail that informs our emotional responses told us to "horde" rugby in case it goes missing again… maybe.
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There was also a celebratory aspect to it; a feeling we'd won something. Nobody was quite sure what that win meant – and it doesn't look so certain now as new cases of coronavirus emerge – but whatever the victory was it was worth leaving the house and joining tens of thousands of others in a giant concrete petri dish for.
Even with those significant qualifiers aside, SR Aotearoa has been embraced in a way Super Rugby hasn't been for a long time. It would be arrogant of New Zealand Rugby to dismiss the lessons.
Lesson 1: Mate v Mate
At its core, this is the rugby we want to watch. In ye olden days, Steve Hansen used to wince as he watched the Super Rugby derbies anticipating the damaged bodies that would inevitably assemble for his All Black camps.
Ian Foster could be doing likewise, though the limited scope of international rugby in 2020 means there is less on the line.
SR Aotearoa might be a jury-rigged tournament that will forever be accompanied by an asterisk but it works. To steal a music saying about a great album, it's all thriller no filler.
A recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald stated that "the Kiwis don't want to play themselves again at Super level after fans devour the provincial Mitre 10 Cup".
This is palpably untrue. Crowds have been missing in action at NPC level for more than a decade, live broadcasts rate poorly and more provincial unions are in a battle for solvency as they are for trophies.
The NPC has a ton-load of history but that's about all. The tribalism that once kept it relevant has long since faded, even outside the Super Rugby host cities.
The obvious wrinkle is that a five-team tournament is not sustainable at any level. One team misses out every week and already it feels like the title is a two-horse race.
Lesson 2: High performance
It is not an unnecessary flag-waving exercise to claim that New Zealand has been the high-performance engine in Super Rugby since its 1996 inception.
There have been just three finals that have not featured one of the five New Zealand franchises and they have accumulated 17 of 24 titles. All five teams have won at least one title and New Zealand is the only country to have not had a franchise fold or decamp to another competition.
At a performance level the country could sustain more franchises without seriously diluting the strength of the competition.
(The travel to Africa, Australia and South America has had benefits for the All Blacks, normalising what used to be considered a difficult journey but there are other ways of achieving this experience without going back to a Frankenstein's monster of a tournament.)
Over the past five bloated years there have been so many poor, irrelevant games that it has had the opposite effect of raising all boats.
The 2020 rugby has yet to truly sparkle since lockdown, due mainly to stringent refereeing interpretation of old laws, but it has been ultra-competitive and, despite the asterisk, meaningful.
Lesson 3: A whole weekend affair
If what emerges from 2020 is an eight to 10-team tournament then the template is simple: use the entire weekend.
Sunday afternoon is a great time for footy. Every team's fans should at least have a couple of opportunities to watch their team in daylight.
If rugby is serious of re-engaging the family, it's a no-brainer.
There were clearly unique factors at play, but 40,000-plus people that were at Eden Park this month will tell you the same thing. Afternoon rugby is better.
Sky has made it clear in the past that they want night kickoffs but the cost of bowing down to broadcasters has already been too high for the sport. Broadcasters can be like no-limit credit cards: the easy money is an amazing "gift", but the interest rates are high.
Rugby has lost its grip on the country in large part because too many fans have been locked out of the game through cost and convenience. This is a great chance to reappraise that and for Sky to be an enthusiastic part of it.
There are four obvious timeslots in New Zealand: Friday night, late Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon. Use them all.
The pandemic was a brutal blow to Southern Hemisphere rugby but New Zealand's rapid restart has provided a huge opportunity not just to refill their coffers but also recognise what matters.
One of the things that matters is, obviously, cash. Even with part-private ownership, Super Rugby has burnt through New Zealand Rugby money in recent years. It is estimated that costs close to $100 million to run the tournament in its old format.
The reluctance to downsize and to look almost purely domestically is also based on cash. Sponsors and broadcasters want global reach. They fear a largely domestic Super Rugby competition would not achieve cut-through in overseas markets.
If revenue plunged, so would the ability to pay players to keep them in New Zealand. The cost-benefit exercise is devilishly tricky.
Just two weeks into SR Aotearoa it seems patently obvious that this is the rugby the public wants: All Blacks past, present and future playing against each other every week in fiercely contested local derbies at user-friendly times.
Despite the obvious negatives, it does however seem like the wind is blowing towards a transtasman competition in 2021. It now has a lot to live up to.
New Zealand Rugby might need to pull off another great marketing trick – convincing us to buy back into the sort of competition we don't really want.