Same old, same old, for England. They put in a brave performance against the world champions, just as they have done on four other occasions in the past year, but yet again they came up short.
They came up well short actually, because a late penalty try from a scrummage, with the conversion coming from a dropped goal by replacement George Ford, gave a rather flattering slant to the scoreline.
England had been excellent in parts in the first half, but for most of the second half, glaringly so in the third quarter, they were simply dreadful. New Zealand took complete control and England's kicking game disintegrated. Danny Care in particular had a half that he will want to forget and Owen Farrell was handicapped by the lack of a kicker outside him at centre. Neither Kyle Eastmond or Brad Barritt can kick at this level, and while Mike Brown can, he was never in a position to do so.
England also missed opportunities in the first half that they should have taken. Brown missed one try that he will lose sleep over. There is some mitigation, of course. England had a raft of injuries beforehand and were not helped by the early departure of Courtney Lawes. Their carrying possibilities were dramatically reduced as a result, especially with No 8 Billy Vunipola well shackled.
The positives? Lock Dave Attwood had an outstanding match, grafting away relentlessly and also did some eye-catching stuff when, for example, making one break from his own 22, as well as stealing a New Zealand lineout late on. And Jonny May scored an early try so good that it will be replayed for many years to come. The England set-piece was solid throughout, with 11 lineouts being won from 11. And Chris Robshaw worked exceptionally well, as ever.
But that is it. Eastmond had an interesting match at inside centre, passing quite beautifully on occasions and certainly not being exposed defensively as he was in the third Test against New Zealand in the summer, but he also made mistakes, most notably when being charged down in the second half. The jury is still very much out.
So too on winger Semesa Rokoduguni. He was picked to be physical and a menace in attack, but we never saw him in that respect. Compare him with the beastly Julian Savea, and you see two very different influences on the match.
Therein lay the difference between the teams really. New Zealand again possessed the players who could influence the match at the appropriate moments. Captain Richie McCaw was omnipresent, if occasionally invisible to the referee at the breakdown, but that has always been the case.
Sam Whitelock was mountainous, and Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read were both always rallying points. And Sonny Bill Williams did not disappoint with some moments of magic, including one sublime angle to make a second-half break.
With more control from flyhalf, where neither Aaron Cruden or Beauden Barrett had distinguished afternoons, New Zealand would have won by much more. It had all looked so different when England led 14-11 at half-time, as Farrell landed a third penalty on the stroke of the interval. They should have been further ahead, however, and that was to come back to haunt them.
May had scored his first international try in his eighth Test after just three minutes. Had things panned out as head coach Stuart Lancaster had envisaged, then either Anthony Watson or Marland Yarde might have been starting on the left wing here. But neither made a case this season, and May did with consistent performances for Gloucester. And here at last he proved that he could score at this level. The ball was transferred from right to left via Farrell and then Barritt. May found himself in the outside centre position, with Eastmond outside. Up ahead was Conrad Smith, one of the classiest outside centres of this generation and many others. May saw space on the outside and decided to take Smith on. And, boy, did he go. He was simply too quick.
England should have scored again soon afterwards. May chased a kick and it bounced up kindly for him. If he had seen Farrell on his inside he could have popped a try-scoring pass. Sadly for England, he didn't.
But that was nothing compared to the open goal Brown missed. The pass from Eastmond may not have been into his stomach but it was good enough to beat the New Zealand defence, and had Brown taken it he would surely have been in at the corner.
New Zealand were rattled, but they duly worked their way back into the match. Kaino was freed on the right by Read and you thought he might have scored himself. But when the ball was recycled, Aaron Smith popped the pass to the onrushing Cruden, who dived over. Well, in fact he landed just short and then managed to touch the line with a second movement, which, of course, is permissible.
But did he roll the ball forward? Referee Nigel Owens was right on the spot and thought so.
It was all black from there. McCaw scored a try, despite a poor pass from Dagg, after George Kruis, on as a replacement for Lawes, had flown out of the defensive line and Aaron Smith's pass had put Read through. Whitelock thought he had scored when England dithered around at the back of a ruck on their own line, but he had not. And not even a yellow card for Dane Coles disturbed New Zealand.
Scorers: England: May try; Ford 1 pen, 1 Con; Farrell 3 pens. New Zealand: Cruden, McCaw, Faumuina tries; Cruden 2 pens, Barrett 1 pen.
England: Brown; Rokoduguni, (Watson 62) Barritt, Eastmond (Ford 64), May; Farrell, Care (B Youngs 62); Marler (Mullan 54), Hartley (Webber 73), Wilson (Brookes 73), Lawes (Kruis 22), Attwood, Wood, Robshaw (capt), B Vunipola (Morgan 52).
New Zealand: Dagg; B Smith, C Smith (Crotty 57), Williams, Savea; Cruden (Barrett 59), A Smith (Perenara 66); Crockett (B Franks 59), Coles (Mealamu 66), O Franks (Faumuina 45), Retallick (Tuipulotu ht), Whitelock, Kaino (Messam 66), McCaw (capt), Read.
Referee: N Owens (Wales).
So much for stodgy old Scotland. So much for churning through the phases for little reward. This was a performance that glistened with urgency and self-confidence and ambition, a satisfying home debut for new coach Vern Cotter as he watched his bold team score five smart tries.