Much has evolved in the century of intense and at times bitter rivalry between the All Blacks and the Springboks. The paradigm shift that matters most when applied to this weekend's 100th test in Townsville, though, is the hunted becoming the hunters.
After successive global triumphs the All Blacks were knocked off their perch at the 2019 World Cup. While they defeated the Springboks in pool play, the South Africans went on to claim the Webb Ellis crown and have, therefore, since been enshrined as rugby's pinnacle scalp.
These revered teams, the most successful in the professional age, are yet to meet since that event that scarred the All Blacks.
Regardless of recent results and rankings, the Boks hold the mantle the All Blacks crave. More than any sense of occasion that's the needle of motivation driving the All Blacks this week.
The All Blacks can't reclaim the World Cup on Saturday. They can, though, present a true gauge of progress under Ian Foster. At this point, only the Boks can provide those answers.
When the All Blacks schedule was released earlier this year the Boks were target No 1. By some distance, too.
The Bledisloe Cup is deeply treasured, sure, and after their maiden upset last year Argentina would not be taken lightly.
But this season, Foster's second in charge, was always built around beating the Boks - so much so that many wanted NZ Rugby to hold off reappointing the All Blacks coaches until after the Rugby Championship.
As it transpired, the decision to rubberstamp Foster through to 2023 prior to leaving New Zealand appears to have unshackled the All Blacks ahead of this milestone match.
"This has got a little legacy moment about it, hasn't it - 100 tests in 100 years - and also the fact that we haven't played South Africa for a couple of years and we've got a bunch of players who are really keen to measure themselves," Foster said after naming his squad that, other than hamstring injuries to openside Dalton Papalii and centre Anton Lienert-Brown, is at full-strength.
To this point, Foster has navigated another tricky campaign superbly. He's taken the Rugby Championship relocation to Queensland and the absence of several influential figures - Sam Cane, Aaron Smith, Dane Coles, Richie Mo'unga, Sam Whitelock - through injury and new family arrivals in his stride.
In a Covid-affected landscape, only this year has Foster been able to instil his expansive, aggressive playing philosophy and imbed new assistant coaches. Eight tests in, results have been largely compelling.
Competition for places has been steadily built through carefully scripted rest and rotation. This week alone in-form wing Sevu Reece is unlucky to miss out to Crusaders team-mates George Bridge and Will Jordan's superior aerial abilities, while TJ Perenara gets the nod ahead of Brad Weber at halfback.
Elsewhere, Luke Jacobson steps in at No 8, with Ardie Savea captaining from openside, in a ready-to-rumble pack that is loaded from starters to finishers.
Despite the All Blacks' clear improvements this season, to a point everything before now matters little.
Foster's men arrive at this juncture in the best possible shape. Yet they know the Boks' set-piece strengths, defensive line speed pressure, kick-heavy attack and pure physicality presents a completely different prospect to anything they've faced since 2019.
"We're feeling strong," Foster said. "There was a strategy we went into this series with. The work behind the scenes with player management, training loads and how we monitor and use contact sessions has been key. You make your own luck in some ways. We've had a little bit, but we're in a good place.
"The squad is bouncing around. We can't wait to get to Townsville and on what will be a very big stage for us. The chance to win this Championship and to have to climb over South Africa to do it is a pretty special occasion for us to test ourselves."
The perception of the Boks has, conversely, altered drastically following successive defeats to the Wallabies where they were essentially unable to hack the pace. Partly those issues can be attributed to their year out of the test arena in 2020, and perhaps a comedown from the headline British and Irish Lions series.
South Africa's clear limitations and rocked confidence are, however, of no concern to the All Blacks.
"I can only plan and expect them to be at their best," Foster said. "We've seen signs of that through the Lions series. I know we used the word 'dire' for that but it's always a big series; a pinnacle event, and they won it. The style of the win is probably irrelevant in many ways in those series.
"They've looked a little bit flat since then and come out of quarantine and played a fast team that's really gone at them. They're a very experienced team. We're expecting them to have learnt a lot from the past two weeks. There's a lot on the line for them and us, so both teams need to be at their best."
In the quest to reassert their authority, the All Blacks are taking nothing for granted. Rightly so too. This iconic rivalry and the Boks demand the hunter's hunger translates to a ruthless performance. Nothing else will do.
All Blacks: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, David Havili, George Bridge, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Luke Jacobson, Ardie Savea (captain), Akira Ioane, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.
Reserves: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ethan Blackadder, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Quinn Tupaea.