In an ordinary rugby year the All Blacks and Wallabies would know each other inside and out. This, as we are all well aware, though, is far from an ordinary year. And so that sense of uncertainty, the many unknown quantities that will be revealed this weekend, heightens anticipation for the first test of the season.
Informed guess work is the best both teams can hope for as they attempt to plot towards the opening Bledisloe Cup test in Wellington on Sunday.
Separated by the Tasman sea, confined to their respective domestic Super Rugby competitions due to travel restrictions, New Zealand and Australian rugby players have not squared off in 2020, adding a layer of intrigue to the pre-match chess movements.
For the All Blacks there's been no chance to watch New Zealand teams combat the Brumbies' rolling maul; no chance to assess the Reds' attacking flair. And, on the other side of the equation, no chance for Australia's best talent to gauge where they sit against their in-form Kiwi counterparts.
"We've probably got the same difficulties they've got with us," All Blacks coach Ian Foster said in Wellington on Tuesday as his side prepares for the first assignment of his tenure. "They've watched our domestic comp; we've watched their domestic comp.
"From that side we've both played a lot of rugby from an individual standpoint with the franchises the last four or five months so we've got that data, they've got ours, so we're on a pretty even footing.
"If you try get too smart in that space we're going to spend all week worrying about things we can't control.
"Quite frankly you could spend too much time second guessing and it would almost be like trying to second guess what the Rugby Championship draw is going to be like and you'd end up going nuts, so we might as well get really good at what we want to do."
Guess work is further complicated by the influx of new coaches that will, in turn, bring new ideas to both teams.
With Michael Cheika exiting, ironically to help the Pumas, the Wallabies have a distinct Northern Hemisphere flavour, with former British and Irish Lions lock Geoff Parling joining Eddie Jones' former attack coach Scott Wisemantel, South African scrum guru Petrus du Plessis and defence coach Matt Taylor, who spent seven years in Scotland which included three alongside Dave Rennie with Glasgow.
"It's an unusual mix for an Australia team so we've got to try and figure that out," Foster admitted.
While Foster is promoted from assistant to head coach and Scott McLeod remains on defence, the All Blacks have considerable change in their management team. Forwards coach John Plumtree, scrum mentor Greg Feek and Brad Mooar's attacking nous will bring fresh philosophies to a team intent on evolving after their devastating World Cup semifinal defeat.
"Clearly you've got two new coaching groups and there's going to be a little bit of the unknown. That kind of makes it a huge test from both sides. We've got an idea where we think they'll try progress their game, and we'll find out at the same time as you.
"They'll come with a fast game, that's Wallaby rugby. They've got some good heads in their coaching group so we know they'll be looking for kicking and running opportunities. We respect them greatly. If they can get their game going, and get front foot-ball, they can be hard to control.
"You add to that we're both jumping out of our skins ready to play, it's going to be a very physical and fast game."
The other major change is the time of year this first test will take place. Rather than walking straight off the Super Rugby pitch into a test match, both teams arrive in great physical shape, having had ample time to recover from their last encounters.
"July historically we've got players coming in battered and bruised so all the Southern Hemisphere teams in the old calendar have struggled a little bit in July and we used to build through that.
"This year is very different, isn't it? Whilst it's been delayed both camps have had a chance to have full domestic competitions. We've had plenty of time to get organised.
"Will it be rusty? Course it will because you'll be trying new things under intense pressure and a little bit of the unknown but we can't complain about not having had time to prepare."