Reputation counted for little as All Blacks coach Steve Hansen candidly dissected where his team have fallen short in recent Tests.
Captain Richie McCaw and in-form fullback Israel Dagg didn't escape Hansen's critical eye on Thursday when he unveiled five changes for Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in Wellington.
While the return from injury of centre Conrad Smith and fellow-veteran Tony Woodcock at prop was expected, Hansen surprised by introducing wing Julian Savea, flanker Victor Vito and lock Brodie Retallick to his starting team.
Despite the impressive 22-0 drubbing of Australia in their last start, wing Hosea Gear has been axed from the 22 while lock Sam Whitelock and flanker Liam Messam drop to the reserves.
A refreshingly blunt Hansen explained Retallick was simply in better form than Whitelock.
When asked if the dropped lock had paid for a faltering All Blacks lineout against the Wallabies, Hansen raised eyebrows when casting a critical eye on McCaw and other forwards.
"I don't think the lineout problem's got anything to do with Sam," Hansen said.
"Richie McCaw delivering the ball poorly to the halfback's got nothing to do with Sam.
"That happened in the first Test and we (hooker Keven Mealamu) under-threw in the second one because we lifted poorly."
Hansen's sharing of the blame continued when explaining Gear's omission.
"He's not scoring tries but that's not his fault.
"He should have got a pass off Izzy (Dagg) the other night to score one. All Izzy had to do was straighten up and keep his line square and we would have scored.
"Hosea has had three games and played pretty tidily but we've got to look to the future as well.
"(Julian) has got a good future so we're giving him a second start.
Hansen clearly remains undecided about his premier blindside flanker to replace departed World Cup star Jerome Kaino.
"We've been looking for a physical player haven't we?
"The expectation is that Victor will provide physicality and we look forward to observing that."