New Zealand's rugby media agree the All Blacks were outplayed by Australia in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Perth, with some suggesting a generation of unbridled success could be winding up.
While the merits of the red card shown to Scott Barrett on Saturday night polarised the written press, there was consensus the Wallabies earned their record 47-26 win and that a third straight World Cup title now provides coach Steve Hansen with his greatest challenge.
The task may be too steep, according to New Zealand Herald columnist Chris Rattue, who believes the ‘humiliated’ All Blacks have lost their aura.
Rattue contends the All Blacks have lost the fear factor forged under the leadership of Richie McCaw and will merely be in the peloton of contenders chasing the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.
"The yellow jersey was ripped up once and for all by men in yellow jerseys on Saturday night," Rattue wrote.
"A golden generation of extraordinary All Black players is at an end, while other countries are far better organised on the field even if the individual talent is still comparatively moderate."
Ardie Savea’s ‘arrogant’ act
Rattue said a fading status means big refereeing calls are no longer routinely going the All Blacks' way, as seemed to be the case before McCaw's retirement in 2015.
Frustration was fuelling ill-discipline, he wrote, highlighted by Ardie Savea's shove to the head of a prone Michael Hooper.
"It was an act of arrogance, one that could only make the All Blacks' task even harder," Rattue wrote.
"Those great All Black World Cup loose forwards of not long ago, McCaw and Jerome Kaino, didn't bother with pointless cheap shots, an attitude which worked.
"Savea's petulance revealed an All Black team which feels threatened and is frustrated by mounting failures.
"Get used to it. The rugby world is slowly being re-shaped."
Three of Rattue's rugby-writing colleagues at the NZ Herald all believed Barrett's 39th-minute offence warranted a yellow card at worst rather than a sending off.
Gregor Paul slammed referee Jerome Garces and opined that rugby risks losing its physical essence if such decisions continue to infiltrate Tests.
Paul believed the All Blacks still showed enough bright moments with 14 men to suggest they'll mount a compelling World Cup campaign.
"If there was a recurring thought in the second half - other than Garces is a plonker and Michael Hooper a relentless whiner - it was that the All Blacks have a phenomenal number of quality footballers who can conjure something out of nothing."