Four years to the day after the All Blacks broke their 24-year World Cup drought with their excruciatingly close 8-7 victory over France in the final at Eden Park, skipper Richie McCaw is ready to go back to the dark places in order to give his side an opportunity to make next weekend's final and do it all again.
That was the feeling behind McCaw's answers at the final press conference before tomorrow's semifinal against the Springboks at Twickenham.
He is ready, and he believes the All Blacks are ready, to do battle with their old foe in what is shaping up to be a blockbuster in terms of intensity and drama. McCaw was eager to talk about the physical challenge ahead against what will be a desperate Boks team because he appears keen to put himself to the test.
If he and his teammates back up the intent behind his words today then they and the thousands of supporters back home appear to have little to worry about.
"Looking at the way we trained today and yesterday as well, the guys are in a pretty good space and understand the challenge that's coming," he said after the captain's run on a grey and cool afternoon at the stadium. "We're under absolutely no illusions as to what is going to be in front of us tomorrow and the guys are in pretty good shape because of it.
It doesn't guarantee anything but it means at this point in time we're ready.
"I've got faith in the men that they're ready to go."
Experienced midfielder Ma'a Nonu, sitting alongside him, also appeared ready. His responses to questions were nowhere near as long as McCaw's, and that in itself is an indication that he is keen to be done with the talking.
McCaw, who is sporting a fresh cut on his forehead, was asked about how many scars the Boks had dished out to him over the years.
"It will be a pretty brutal game but those are the games I love," he said. "If I get the odd scar, well that's part and parcel of it. Playing that opposition with that sort of intensity is why we play the game. If we're going to get the job done I'll take any scar that comes along with it."
When asked about Boks flanker Schalk Burger, whom he will play for the final time tomorrow before his retirement at the end of the year, McCaw said: "Schalk Burger is a guy I've been lucky enough to play against for many years. He's the epitome of the physicality that the Springboks bring. I relish those opportunities. If we never get to do it again, well I wouldn't mind making this one the one to remember."
But here too there was a sting in the tail: "He's a man I respect hugely but I want to get one over him."
Assistant coach Ian Foster, sitting between Nonu and McCaw, said the forecast rain at Twickenham wasn't likely dampen the All Blacks' spirits.
"We've had an eye on the weather for the last three or four days and we know that the rain is going to come eventually," he said. "Like always, you go in with a plan and you have to adapt and adjust on the day. We have played the odd wet game in New Zealand, believe it or not, so we'll be fine."
- NZ Herald