Four talking points from the weekend's rugby, including previously unimaginable pats on the back for Sir Clive Woodward and Quade Cooper.
Is this arrogance of realism?
Does a fair appraisal of how the teams rank in the Rugby Championship right now run like this: The All Blacks first, daylight second, and the rest third?
We'll know for sure after the test with the Springboks in Townsville next weekend, but that's certainly how it looks. The Wallabies, led by an all-time great in Michael Hooper, are playing much better than they did earlier in the championship, but I still know who I'd rather have written on a TAB ticket, and it's not Australia.
The All Blacks were again hugely impressive as they beat the Pumas 36-13. They've hit a sweet spot that, with the terrific impact of rookies this year, they should be able to maintain for the foreseeable future.
Watching the dynamism of Samisoni Taukei'aho, the extraordinary workrate of Ethan Blackadder, or the coolness under pressure of Quinn Tupaea, it's obvious the All Black regime knows how to get the best from new guys.
It's not just the icing, the cake is damned good too
There are moments when the All Blacks cut loose with the ball that are breathtaking. Taukei'aho's try in the 43rd minute was an example of how thrilling and daring rugby can be, even in the cauldron of a test. Blindside flanker Blackadder stood in at halfback and fired a perfect pass. Wing Will Jordan slapped the ball on, and flanker Ardie Savea drew and passed to Taukei'aho as sweetly as any centre could.
But at the heart of the success is a steeliness that went missing in the dreaded semifinal against England at the 2019 World Cup. Without that base it doesn't matter how good the backs are, they're wallflowers at the dance.
This year, from the front row to No 8 the All Blacks forwards have stood their ground, scrambling, grappling and scrapping so well in broken play they can handle a one-dimensional armwrestle. At scrum time they've raised their game too. It's what they'll need against the man mountains from South Africa. The reality is, after what we saw against the Pumas at Suncorp, whoever in the New Zealand squad is on the field, the mindset stays the same.
Shrek turned out to not be so scary either
The losing 30-17 scoreline against Australia was flattering to South Africa.
Are the Wallabies as good as they looked on Saturday, or is it just that the Springboks are completely bereft of ideas when the big, bad, ogre act doesn't spook an opponent?
A bit of both feels the most likely. I never thought I'd write these words, but Quade Cooper has provided a stability the Wallabies have been sadly lacking. And in Samu Kerevi they have a midfielder who brings to mind the best All Black second-five I've ever seen, Ma'a Nonu. Like Nonu, Kerevi has huge physical presence, and, again like Nonu, Kerevi has a swag of rugby intelligence to go with the brawn.
On the other hand, the Springboks, while physically fearless, are mentally fragile. Their backs couldn't cope with the fact the Wallabies were matching them in the forwards. It took an age for them to realise that, even if the Australian back three can struggle under the high ball, kick and chase just wasn't going to do the job.
There's talent in the Springbok backline, but, just as it was a week ago, when they tried to organise themselves to attack it was about as seamless as Basil Fawlty and Manuel on a bad day in the dining room.
I'm with Clive to a degree
Sir Clive Woodward is not exactly a man world famous for turning out exciting teams. For my many sins I was in the crowd in Sydney in 2003 when his England team grafted their way to a tedious 20-17 World Cup final win over Australia.
But fair play to him for saying that if the South African style of play took over the game worldwide, then rugby would be dead in five years. That's a bit melodramatic for my taste, but the game would certainly be badly damaged.
Which is why next Saturday it's not just jingoism that makes me want to see the All Blacks triumph, but my lifelong fondness for rugby. This not some sort of campaign against South African rugby. When I was at primary school in the 1950s a variation in tactics for the All Blacks was to have the first-five kick instead of the halfback. We ignored the tedium because the style won games. But thank God that hasn't been the All Black mentality for years.
Now real change in the Springboks will only come when the 10-man obsession stops working.
The Wallabies have prised the South African kick and crunch door open. Hopefully the All Blacks can kick it right down.