PRINCIPALITY STADIUM, Cardiff -- The drought goes on. Valiant, as always, but ultimately Wales lacked composure at key moments and were made to pay in the second half as the All Blacks handed down a lesson in finishing.
Waisake Naholo finished with two tries, Rieko Ioane snaffled up a loose pass to trot over the line then made a delightful outside break to score while Anton Lienert-Brown was in the right place to finish off Ioane's break. Five clinical tries. Game over.
Wales came in hope. The year 1953 has been mentioned in every pub, café and street in Cardiff this week; 64 years waiting to beat the All Blacks. Omens were talked of with stand-in captain Sam Whitelock's grandfather in that last New Zealand side to fall to Wales.
There was also a theory that the All Blacks were there for the taking, with an ever-lengthening injury list which has sidelined seven first-choice players.
But their depth is astonishing. So too is their ability to create chances from thin Welsh air. Ioane -- who now has 11 tries in 13 Tests -- is an astonishing player, while Naholo's two finishes were wonderful contortionist efforts. They are so dangerous; the smallest of gaps are exploited and points follow.
This was a bruising Test match. The All Blacks' bodies must be aching after a never-ending season and after 18 minutes, three players had already left the field with various injuries. It was punishing, unwavering and completely unsympathetic all played inside one of the world's best arenas.
The fireworks signalled the start of the game, and soon they metamorphosed into a series of earth-moving tackles.
It almost became a battle of mind over muscle. Wales never stopped trying to play. The two-sided attack is ticking along nicely with Dan Biggar and Owen Williams dovetailing nicely at 10 and 12 but quick ball was lacking, allowing the All Blacks' defence to re-organise themselves.
Wales' star man was loosehead Rob Evans who was effective in attack, defence and in the front row. He is indicative of the team Wales are on the road to becoming. A team who can shift the ball and run around the defence rather than through it.
Given their previous, more attritional, bombardment methodology, they surprisingly lacked the ballast to break through the All Blacks defence. The gainline-breakers weren't necessarily there with George North absent. So instead it was up to Steff Evans -- a lively winger full of ambition with ball in hand -- to try his hand at heading into the black wall while Hallam Amos' break late in the first half was rewarded with Scott Williams' try.
Josh Navidi was also effective at openside and caused the All Blacks difficulty when he managed to attack the ball in space. But they simply did not have enough. Five first-choice players were absent, the depth they are trying so hard to build is still being developed.
The All Blacks, in turn, will see this end-of-year tour as an invaluable experience. Players have been given a taste of Test match rugby. Someone like Damian McKenzie has grown in nous on just his second jaunt to the Northern Hemisphere. He was again a nuisance at fullback and will only improve. A scary thought.
Ioane and Naholo now surely lay claim to both wing berths in a composite world XV and while Beauden Barrett had one of his quieter games, he seems to find an extra second on the ball where others rush. It was like watching him suddenly turn the game into slow-motion and then decide on the best option.
The same goes for Aaron Smith. As he turned and twisted after Ioane's early break leading up to Naholo's first try, he still managed to float a lovely ball to the rampaging winger to score.
Sam Cane was also a menace at the breakdown and here are the two sides to the All Blacks' game. On the surface they are graceful, eye-catching; underneath it there is so much work which goes unseen.
There can be no grumbles from the home support. The All Blacks were simply too good and pinned points to the board when they had opportunities. They are still the world's finest team, no debate there. So All Blacks on the decline? No chance.
To distort Mark Twain's famous phrase, tales of their demise have been greatly exaggerated. The wait for a Wales win over the All Blacks continues.