The first year under a new coaching regime headed by Ian Foster was far from an ideal experience for Kiwi fans. Back-to-back losses to the Wallabies and most notably Argentina will leave the public needing greater validation that this team is heading in the right direction.
However, the difficulties of Covid-19 provide a complicating factor, and the first seasons of previous All Blacks coaches didn't always paint an accurate picture of what was to come.
Here's how Foster's first season compares to those of the five All Blacks coaches before him.
Ian Foster, 2020
50% winning percentage - Three wins, one draw (Wallabies), two losses (Wallabies and Argentina)
+84 points difference
The 2019 Rugby World Cup defeat to England in the semifinals left a gaping wound that would take a fair bit of time to stitch up. It was one of the few times the All Blacks had been thoroughly and convincingly outplayed.
So Foster had his work cut out from the start – he needed to prove he was the man to reinvigorate the team when his resume struggled to match the prerequisites for the mission ahead.
Despite two wins and a draw against the Wallabies to start, bringing about some hope, losses to Australia and Argentina plunged the team and their supporters to new depths of despair.
The thumping win to round out the year did little to gloss over the glaring issues the team faces – attacking cohesion, consistency at the breakdown and on defence, selection, and most importantly, determination.
Next year, a lot of convincing will be needed from Foster and co. to prove he remains the right man for the job.
Steve Hansen, 2012
86% winning percentage - 12 wins, one draw (Wallabies), one loss (England)
+273 points difference
Our greatest coach, statistically, also had one of the great first seasons in charge.
Following the success of the 2011 World Cup and being an integral part of that drought-breaking win, Hansen had huge expectations to maintain a similar level of output. He was lucky to have a good chunk of the team that lifted the Webb Ellis Cup still around in Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Dan Carter, among others, as well as ascending talents in the form of Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Brodie Retallick and Julian Savea, who all made their debuts that year.
Things kicked off near perfectly with a dominant series victory over Ireland by an average of 31.7 points per game. The newly formed Rugby Championship with Argentina joining the fold followed, where New Zealand went unbeaten with six wins from six.
The four-match Northern tour continued Hansen's excellent start before a 17-point loss to England at Twickenham – a minor blight on an otherwise terrific year.
Graham Henry, 2004
82% winning percentage - Nine wins, two losses (Wallabies, Springboks)
+187 points difference
Graham Henry's arrival signalled the culture change Wayne Smith – who was one of his assistants – was so eager to implement when he coached the team a few years prior. Out with the binge-drinking and in with the mental strengthening.
Henry's first test in charge was a 36-3 win over England, a match he famously said beforehand would feature an All Blacks side 'only 40 per cent prepared'. So what on earth was this team meant to look like with that added 60 per cent? Scary stuff.
The team continued to chalk up victories over the English, Argentina and Pacific Islanders at a premium, injecting fans with some much needed euphoria. But back-to-back losses to finish the Tri Nations saw the Springboks claim the title. Wins as part of the Northern Tour over Italy, Wales and France did somewhat soothe the disappointment felt by missed opportunities over their Southern Hemisphere foes.
While it took some time, Henry curated one of the most successful periods in All Blacks history, topped off by a World Cup win in 2011.
John Mitchell, 2001/02
79% winning percentage - 11 wins, one draw (France), two losses (Wallabies, England)
+246 points difference
There seemed to be a general sense of promise attached to John Mitchell's appointment in late 2001, still with three tests left in the season following Wayne Smith's shocking departure.
Mitchell was young, at 37 years, with charisma, and he generated some needed enthusiasm ahead of the 2003 World Cup. He also had a knack at utilising young talent and making it work on the pitch.
Mitchell's first three matches in charge delivered wins away to Ireland, Scotland and Argentina by margins of 11, 31, and four – an admiral effort considering his short time in the job.
His first true test would come in 2002 following six months at the helm.
The year kicked off with a bang, with the All Blacks thumping Italy in Hamilton 64-10, before large wins over Ireland (twice) and Fiji. The Tri Nations was New Zealand's with three wins from four, but the pivotal away test to the Wallabies failed to take back the Bledisloe Cup.
The final five tests of the year were less encouraging, with the All Blacks managing a two-win, one-draw, two-loss record that included defeats to Australia and England.
Wayne Smith, 2000
70% winning percentage - Seven wins, three losses (Wallabies, Springboks, France)
+236 points difference
Following on from the shocking exit at the hands of France at the 1999 World Cup, Wayne Smith took over a team that needed direction, and he was determined to return the group to a realm filled with pride and self-belief.
Early results attested to that, including a massive 102-0 victory over Tonga – a first-up win few would experience. Smith followed that up with home wins over the Wallabies and Springboks, to put his side in the box seat for victory in the Tri Nations.
However they lost their final two tests to Australia (in Wellington) and South Africa (in Johannesburg), and opening the door for their trans-Tasman rivals to swoop in and claim both pieces of the silverware on offer. Smith essentially put his team on notice ahead of their end of year tour which consisted of two tests against France and one against Italy.
His call to arms did little to motivate the group and calm nerves surrounding the team's performances, with a two-one record to round out the international season.
John Hart, 1996
90% winning percentage - Nine wins, one loss (Springboks)
+156 points difference
John Hart's first year in charge of the black jersey has gone down as one of the best for the national side. Taking over after the 1995 World Cup, where New Zealand went down to South Africa in a final they were heavy favourites in, Hart guided them to a nine-match winning run as the game turned professional.
It started with a 51-10 victory over Western Samoa, and was followed up by comfy wins over Scotland and Australia on home soil.
His major success was a test series win in South Africa. New Zealand won the first three matches, taking out the series and thus making the fourth and final tussle a dead-rubber. South Africa won that by 10 points for Hart's only defeat in '96.
Former skipper Sean Fitzpatrick described that series win as the highlight of his career, which also featured a World Cup win in 1987.