The success of New Zealand's international programme and possibly even the future of some careers could be decided when they face Australia in the final Tri-Nations match of the season at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
The All Blacks have lost four games this season, one to France and three to South Africa, losing the Dave Gallaher Cup and Tri-Nations trophy in the process.
Should they lose to Robbie Deans's Wallabies side in Wellington, it will be the first time they have lost three tests in New Zealand in the same season.
The run of defeats comes into greater significance in that prior to the 30-28 loss to South Africa in Dunedin in July 2008, the All Blacks had not lost in 30 internationals at home.
With the 2011 World Cup now less than two years away, the advantage of 'Fortress New Zealand' that Graham Henry's team had developed over the preceding years is slowly being chipped away and faith in the coaching staff waning.
Captain Richie McCaw, however, said he and his team mates could not fathom why so much criticism was directed towards the coaching team of Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith.
"They are always under pressure when you have a loss the week before," McCaw told reporters on Friday. "It seems to be the way in this country that they get it in the neck.
"They're not the ones that are running out on the field.
"They've been great this week, they haven't allowed any of that to come through to the team."
"They have made sure they helped us prepare to make sure we perform the best we can tomorrow (Saturday) and that's all you can ask of them.
"They are three pretty good coaches who have been through times like this over the last few years so they have done exactly the same this week." McCaw's team have been particularly error-prone this season, failing to perform even the basics correctly, though he said the side were trying to build on the few things they did well.
"You've got to take forward the good things that you are doing well and you've got to keep the belief," he said.
"In sport, when you come second, it's how you react to it.
"On Saturday, we get a chance to do that. I guess we're lucky to get another crack."Reuse content