The Crusaders learned one big lesson last night. You can take the boy out of the No 10 shirt - but why bother?
Daniel Carter, after a season of inching forward, took a giant step in the right direction against the Hurricanes in Nelson. He wasn't commanding but he played with authority. He didn't cut the Hurricanes to shreds, but he pulled them this way and that.
He didn't show the electric pace and uncanny ability to break the meanest defence, but he backed himself to go at the line and ask questions of those charged with stopping him.
His left boot wasn't perfect, but it nearly was. He won territory and banged over goals and, most importantly of all, gave the All Blacks coaches the reassurance they needed.
Maybe he played as well as he did because he was simply due a decent game. Maybe he was responding to the pressure he and the Crusaders were under, having pretty much given their campaign away in Sydney.
Or maybe his performance was driven by nothing more complex than the fact he was restored to his preferred No 10 jersey. That's his natural home. That's where his influence can be exerted and skills most effectively used.
There's no need to trawl through screeds of video analysis to conclude that Carter has always been at his best when he's the undisputed tactical director. There's no question his confidence and form are directly linked to the time he spends with ball in hand.
His game is built on patience. He's never really been a quick-kill sort of player. His quality is in the relentless way he manages the gameplan to never let the opposition work out him or his intentions.
What he did so well in Nelson was keep the Crusaders in the right parts of the field and then pick the right options to squeeze, then break a Hurricanes team who have looked nearly unbeatable at times this season.
The All Blacks coaches will have enjoyed what they saw. They will be hopeful now that over the next two weeks, maybe more depending on results, Carter can prove he's the best first-five in the country.
The selectors have always been confident he is, but they would admit they have been drawn to that way of thinking more on reputation and hope than current form.
They, like everyone else, have been secretly baffled at the Crusaders' reluctance to play Carter in his best position until now.
He was largely a passenger at second-five - the game passing him by as the Crusaders tried to work the ball wide nearly every time they had it.
Carter just couldn't get his hands on the ball and the kicking game was entrusted with Colin Slade.
The All Blacks coaches could only guess that if Carter was given his chance at No 10, he'd come right. They wanted to see proof of that in Super Rugby rather than throw him the All Blacks No 10 shirt, shut their eyes and hope for the best.
The journey is by no means finished. But at least now it has started. At least now Carter has played one game at first-five that has strongly hinted that, while he's a long way off being the magical force he was in his prime, he is not so far away from proving he's the right man for the All Blacks to pick this season.