The rugby events of last year increasingly appear in need of being reclassified as an aberration.
A set of barely comprehensible circumstances caused havoc and produced results and performances that were wildly unpredictable and cast the All Blacks in an unflattering light where they were rarely able to provide a version of their true selves.
What we can see now, seven tests into the 2021 season, is that the All Blacks have emerged from their Covid-cocoon as something different and more impressive.
There's no end to the reasons why this transformation has been so dramatic, but none more important than the new-found confidence, unity and growth of the coaching team.
Circumstances conspired last year as to render the coaching group acutely under-prepared.
They were an untried team, three of whom – John Plumtree, Greg Feek and Brad Mooar – were new to the All Blacks and they were left with little time to plan and prepare, most of which had to be done virtually due to travel restrictions.
The perfect storm element to this was the need to rebuild the playing squad after the usual retirements after the 2019 World Cup.
A new captain had to be picked, a new leadership group settled and a host of new caps – eight were in the original squad – introduced to test football.
There was also an omnipresent narrative in certain sections of the media that New Zealand Rugby had made a mistake in awarding the head coaching role to Ian Foster rather than Scott Robertson.
A hostile media contingent didn't trouble Foster. What did, however, was that NZR's high-performance committee twice recommended that the coaching team have their contracts extended through to 2023 and twice that request was rejected by the board.
The pressure on this group has at times been intolerable but in a show of resilience and possibly even defiance, they have focused solely on proving themselves in the one place where it matters.
This year, while hardly being without disruption or nasty Covid-related surprises, has been viewed by Foster as one which has at least provided his coaching group a better platform from which to plan, select and prepare the team and a chance to demonstrate their art more effectively.
That they have managed to do that is beyond any reasonable doubt, because the conviction with which the All Blacks are playing is undeniable.
The forwards in particular are almost unrecognisable in 2021 compared with 2020 and if Plumtree was awestruck and uncertain last year about his ability to do the role, he's not now.
Nor is Feek because the All Blacks' scrummaging was world class against the Pumas in Brisbane as it has been all year.
The areas of improvement are everywhere, though. The All Blacks ball carrying is fast and dynamic, their transition attack off lineout is smooth and effective and they are cleaning out rucks with such precision as to produce a constant supply of quick possession.
Their defence has gone up several levels now they have trust and understanding in the system and the discipline to apply it and their attack has straightened.
More importantly, the All Blacks of 2021 have been willing to be patient and attack in narrow patterns to create more space when they decide the time is right to push the ball wide.
The impact players such as Samisoni Taukei'aho, David Havili, Ethan Blackadder, Akira Ioane and George Bower have been able to make is definitive evidence of the comfort inexperienced players are feeling and the clarity the team has in regard to tactical and technical expectations.
A coaching group that faced impossibly difficult circumstances last year has been able to give a truer account of itself this year and bring out more from players who are starting to better understand the nuts and bolts of test rugby.
Even though there was a raggedness about the All Blacks in the final 20 minutes against the Pumas in Brisbane, there was enough quality rugby from what was effectively a dirt-tracking team to be sure that the coaching messages are pervading to the periphery of the squad.
But, as obvious as it is that this All Blacks team has matured into a more dynamic and controlled force, the next two weeks will provide the most significant examination yet of just how robust and resilient they are.
South Africa, despite their woes, will present Foster's All Blacks with their stiffest challenge to date.
As former boxing champion Mike Tyson said: "Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the mouth."
And metaphorically at least, the All Blacks are going to be punched in the mouth by the Boks and how they react will tell us whether we can indeed go ahead and write off last year as an aberration.