False starts give way to a new dawn. Ten months after being appointed All Blacks head coach, Ian Foster finally gets to flick the switch on his era.
Foster has been here before. Eight years he was Steve Hansen's right-hand man.
Now, though, that dynamic has shifted. This is Foster's time.
The All Blacks are his responsibility to bear, shape, evolve. Good, supreme, bad or ugly, the buck stops with him.
Through the scrapped July tests, and many schedule changes thereafter, it's been a long wait – 400 days to be exact – for the All Blacks to play their first home match, after the disappointment of last year's World Cup. It's also, for the record, the longest period between home tests in 50 years.
During that time sitting idle Foster has planned, plotted and plotted some more as he seeks to absorb those World Cup lessons. He and anointed captain Sam Cane, who assumes Kieran Read's leadership mantle, are well ready to release the anxious tension bubbling within.
"Am I nervous? Course I'm nervous," Foster says ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener in Wellington tomorrow afternoon which as of yesterday had 5000 tickets yet to sell. "That's why you're in this job - it's a great feeling to have. It gets you going.
"Like everyone I've gone through frustration and hope, and done that cycle about 10 times. The last 10 days in some ways I've wanted to play the test every day. Now I'm in that normal mode, I'm pretty happy with where the team is at today – we've still got 48 hours to go – then I guess the old nerves will kick. That Sunday clock will go really slow before kickoff and then the fun starts.
"The emotions are there but I love test matches. There's no better feeling, there's so much at stake. The last 48 hours are the special part because you're in danger of second-guessing yourself if you think too much about it, but you've got to trust yourself."
Change within the All Blacks may have been more pronounced had highly successful Crusaders coach Scott Robertson, in many ways the public favourite, beaten Foster to the top job.
Yet with several new management additions – forwards coach John Plumtree, attack coach Brad Mooar and former All Blacks prop Greg Feek – as well as the intake of rookies which includes Caleb Clarke, Hoskins Sotutu and Tupou Vaa'i who are in line to debut from the bench this weekend, Foster has set about integrating change and continuity.
"It definitely feels new. There are a significant number of familiar faces from the last few years. There's a third of the team who are back from being out for a while or they're new and that changes the dynamic.
"Clearly the management changes are going to take a while but the signs for me are we've got some really good people with a fresh way of looking at some things and that's given me plenty to ponder."
On a personal level some things have changed; some remain the same. The underlying sense of calm this week suggests the weight of expectation hasn't consumed Foster yet. With a 17-year Bledisloe Cup record to protect, it would be easy for pressure to build.
"Sometimes it does and sometimes it feels like I've been here a while. I go through both those feelings. It doesn't feel brand new for me to be honest. I feel like I've walked this journey the last eight years a little bit. I know it's in a different role but a test match is a test match.
"There's a bit more resting on the shoulders, but I always felt accountable for the role I did so nothing has changed from that side."
Plumtree has coached for 23 years - in South Africa, Wales, Ireland and Japan, before returning to New Zealand to lead the Hurricanes. In the short window working alongside Foster he has been impressed.
"I've worked with a lot of great coaches," Plumtree says. "I've loved the way Fozzie goes about his business. I love the way he plans, builds the week, instructs us and what to look for; the way we distribute information without making sure the players get blocked.
"He's got a great way of switching on and off and making us feel calm and relaxed and have fun as well. He's a very experienced coach at this level, an intelligent guy who knows exactly what it takes to prepare a test team.
"I've really enjoyed working with him. I thought I knew it all but I'm way behind. You can see why he's got massive respect from the players."
From an on-field perspective, Foster is promising change. Coaches and players insist they have moved on from the World Cup semifinal defeat but, for the public at least, the maiden test of 2020 will be viewed as the first step on the long road to rectifying that result.
"The lessons from that have been and gone," Foster says. "We've pulled that apart over the early months of the year and now we don't need that burden to feel excited and pressured to play for the All Blacks – the jersey demands that anyway. This is about this team, about making sure we set the foundations in this test and the subsequent ones so we can launch into the next one.
"There's always tweaks and changes to an All Blacks team. If you look over the past decade what was happening five years ago certainly wasn't happening the last couple of years.
"We've got to get more consistent with our set piece and make sure we use it as a firm base for our game. We're also looking hard at growing the effectiveness of our defence, particularly when teams want to play a very physical, direct game against us.
"There's a couple of areas we know we have to improve and take steps in that space."
For a team that loves to use the ball at every opportunity and play at breakneck pace, one major focus will be attempting to combat the variations of rush defence which stifled the All Blacks attack in recent seasons.
Whether it's one defender flying up from the outside in, or a full defensive line speed press, the All Blacks are certain to face more of these smothering tactics.
"It's the go-to in the game. Line speed is generally getting quicker but there's different ways people do that. There's a few new thinkers in there from an attack side so we're looking at reshaping a few things which we've started. We've got to set a few big rocks in place in the first few tests and see where we go from there."
Sunday, one could say, is the first of many judgment days for Foster. So, too, Cane whose promotion has been questioned given the depth of the loose forward stocks.
"He's prepared, he's ready. I like where he's at," Foster says of his skipper. "He's been thoughtful all week. He's a bit quiet, softly spoken. He doesn't look grumpy but he doesn't look happy and that's probably a nice place to be. He's focused."
Cane, like Foster, has been forced to wait after first being asked to assume the captaincy in February. He's since worked behind the scenes to re-establish his leadership group and while opposing Wallabies captain Michael Hooper will play his 100th test, expect Cane to bring the hurt and lift his men through his relentless defensive attitude.
"His ability to connect with every player in the group is a huge asset in terms of how he can lead," All Blacks hooker Codie Taylor says. "That adds to the element of when you're out there in a game under the pump you know he's going to give everything and he trusts you to do the same. That goes a long way for those young boys coming through."
The agonising wait for Foster and Cane is, almost, over. Anticipation will build to nerves which gives way to pure adrenaline, pride and passion.
The sun has set on the Hansen-McCaw-Read era. This Sunday, it rises for Foster-Cane.
"We've been thinking about it for a long time," Foster says. "When you go through the year we have the desire to get on the park is even greater. We know it's been a tough year for everyone and the fact we can get back on the park guarantees this will be a special occasion."