Warren Gatland will hope to regain his diminished coaching gloss if he ever makes it to South Africa with the British and Irish Lions.
Returning to the UK next month for a succession of Lions roundtable commitments following a string of nine straight losses with the Chiefs is a less than ideal backdrop - a far cry from the heroic sendoff he received when departing Wales after last year's World Cup.
Gatland is a man accustomed to the harsh northern winters but a return home to the ol' misty that is Hamilton has left his pride, and coaching credentials, frostbitten.
Words and body language carried contrasting messages as the former Waikato hooker attempted to explain the Chiefs' horror record losing run, which only saving grace is it finishes one week early thanks to the bye.
As Gatland admitted after Saturday's 31-18 defeat to the Hurricanes in Wellington, the Chiefs have been a different team since lockdown.
Circumstances, to some degree, conspired against them as injuries to their tight five and refereeing blunders assisted in digging the insurmountable hole against their superior local brethren.
The sound of flushing toilets as a dejected Gatland sat in the post-match press conference, however, seemed an apt metaphor for the winless run that has transpired.
The worry for Gatland, as he reflects on his first turbulent Super Rugby campaign, is his coaching style may need a major alteration.
What worked so well in establishing his presence as one of the world's leading coaches with Wales and the Lions in particular has not worked in New Zealand.
In many ways, in fact, it's the polar opposite.
The issue for Gatland boils down to the foreign and the familiar.
Gatland's familiar is the largely conservative, set-piece focused, territory-based, defensive resilience that enabled Wales to scrap and grind their way to four Six Nations titles in his 12-year reign.
After such an extended period abroad, foreign is the inherent and exuberant New Zealand flair that breeds young talent to chase width, offload in contact and attack from anywhere.
It's a classic clash of styles.
The Chiefs' struggles on attack – they finish the Kiwi derby competition with the fewest points, tries and line breaks – crystallised in the obvious frustrations of playmakers Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie and Aaron Cruden whose instincts seemed strangled by tactics to kick heavily.
Gatland's test record against the Rugby Championship nations with Wales – 14 wins from 51 tests – speaks to his historical challenges against fluid, free-flowing attacking intent.
The Chiefs will retain faith that Gatland's intellect and vast experience will eventually pay off, but these flaws have again been exposed in the world's toughest domestic competition.
As Gatland prepares to switch focus to the Lions, there must now be worries his approach, without serious adjustment, may be incompatible with the New Zealand way.
If nothing else, Gatland now knows the Chiefs' shortcomings and the imperative of building depth.
Without All Blacks front-rowers Atu Moli and Nathan Harris; irreplaceable lock Brodie Retallick and Canadian workhorse Tyler Ardron, the Chiefs struggled to lay a platform.
Setting aside those issues, and some undoubtedly rough refereeing decisions, this losing run is unacceptable for a franchise that set the standard under Dave Rennie not so long ago.
Time to reflect should allow Gatland the space to make the necessary adjustments but it will then be a case of sinking or swimming when he eventually returns to the Chiefs in 2022.
He will be thankful that whatever format Super Rugby then assumes, it will be easier than the ruthless, relentless prospect of facing Kiwi contemporaries every week.
"If we do roll it out again is there a sixth team added - how strong is that sixth team going to be? Is four games in a row too many, can we have another bye week?" Gatland asked. "There's no doubt it does prepare you for the next level. This is close, it's tough; it's as close as you're going to get to test match rugby."
With Gatland preparing to assume his Lions duties in the UK – he will return in December for his daughter's wedding and be forced to fork out to quarantine – New Zealand Maori and Bay of Plenty coach Clayton McMillan can at least step into the interim role safe in the knowledge he can do no worse.
Asked about the difficulties in attempting to rebuild while juggling the Lions, Gatland opined: "That's going to be a challenge for us. There's going to be a bit of wait and see for the Lions. Hopefully that continuity of Clayton coming in and seeing what we've been doing and him being involved with us will help."
A third Lions tour as head coach to South Africa in July next year, should it proceed as planned amid the Covid-19 pandemic, represents a return to familiarity for Gatland; a chance to re-establish his lost sheen.
Yet it will be his eventual return to the Chiefs that will reveal much more about his ability to adapt and evolve to an intensely challenging, and very different, landscape.