The Crusaders are out of the playoffs - a dogfight they haven't missed since 2001 - but it's an absence which just might give the All Blacks and Richie McCaw an extra boost ahead of their World Cup defence.
Instead of sneaking into sixth place on the table and extending their season by up to three away matches, their nine front-line All Blacks (if Colin Slade is included as such), will be given an extra rest period ahead of their next assignment, a historic July 8 match against Samoa which has taken on added significance following the tragic death of the Apia-born Jerry Collins.
Although it will be cold comfort to Crusaders' supporters, the extra three weeks off will allow the minds and bodies of some of Steve Hansen's best players to be refreshed.
They will then play three tests in the shortened Rugby Championship, starting with Argentina in Christchurch on July 17, an extra Bledisloe Cup match against Australia in Auckland on August 15, and then the World Cup is upon them. The All Blacks' first match in their title defence is against Argentina at Wembley on September 21.
It's a positive outlook which is all the Crusaders and their supporters are left with after an inconsistent and frustrating season for them.
They have flirted with danger many times under Todd Blackadder's six-year rein, but this time they left it far too late. Several of their performances were unacceptable for a team carrying so many quality players - it's hard to go past their round-one defeat to the Rebels in Christchurch - and the writing was on the wall once they lost to the Waratahs in Sydney three weeks ago.
If that loss rubbed more salt into a wound still open from last year's grand final defeat, Michael Cheika's team gave it a good kicking when they thrashed the Cheetahs 58-33 in Bloemfontein several hours after the Crusaders' 34-11 bonus-point victory over the Blues to finally shut the door on their playoffs hopes.
Speaking after his team's victory and before the Waratahs' win in South Africa, McCaw was realistic about the Crusaders' chances.
Their excellent bonus-point win over the competition-leading Hurricanes had given them hope the previous weekend but other results failed to go their way.
"Going into this week we realised it was a long shot," he said. "We wanted to back up a reasonable performance last week with another one because that's what we haven't been able to achieve this year."
When asked to sum up the Crusaders' season, Blackadder, who has one year remaining on his contract, said: "Frustrating. Really, really frustrating."
However, the upsides could be considerable for New Zealand rugby.
McCaw led the tackle count with 13, went close to scoring in the left corner in the second half, and afterwards was upbeat about his physical wellbeing as he considers the end of his Crusaders career. Next week's match against the Brumbies in Canberra will be the end, just as it will be for Carter.
"Pretty good, actually," McCaw replied when asked about his 34-year-old body which he continues to put into dark and dangerous places on the field. "A bit tired [but] everything else is pretty good heading towards the end of the season so I'm happy with that."
Blackadder's sum-up of the match should also gladden the hearts of those with a fondness for the black jersey. "It was well led by Richie and DC. I thought Richie McCaw was outstanding tonight. He was everywhere, he was tough, he led from the front, and there are more guys that need to get with him."
Crusaders' All Blacks
Front line: Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Wyatt Crockett, Dan Carter, Colin Slade, Israel Dagg.
Fringe: Matt Todd, Ryan Crotty.