Those who headed to Allianz Stadium endlessly cheered, endlessly hoped that Saturday arvo footy would lead to a Wallabies revival. But in the end they were short-changed by the masters of disaster.
When leaving the ground, some in embarrassment hid their Wallabies scarfs underneath their jumpers after being forced to witness the demise of a side that no longer knows how to win, no longer knows how to take its chances, and no longer can claim to boast a credible game plan.
Then again, do the Wallabies actually have a game plan? Probably not, which is understandable when their skill level is so inadequate.
And the common query among those heading to the exits: "What are the All Blacks going to do to the Wallabies?"
The answer does not bear contemplating.
The previous evening we witnessed rugby excellence when the ever intuitive All Blacks toyed with Samoa, blissfully scoring whenever they wanted. Then this. A team allegedly trying to mimic the All Blacks in being reactive and proactive ended up looking like feeble imposters, wasting at least five reasonable chances in the final minutes to win this Test by either losing it at the breakdown, knocking the ball on, or by losing their minds.
Then again, so many clues on what was about to occur was on show before kick-off. As they ran through their moves in the warm-up, the Scots were sheer silk. Their handling and passing was first rate. At the Paddington end of the field, the Wallabies had the stutters. So much appeared forced. They did not look like a cohesive team. That trend continued during the game.
For the spectator, the Scottish mystique was enhanced if they had been stupid enough to buy a Test match program. If you were wondering which Scottish player was which, and who were the big names in their team, this program confused you even further.
Nowadays the dithering Australian Rugby Union are quite happy to sell you an official Test match program that doesn't even provide a match day team list. It couldn't even get the name of that day's Australian captain right. Instead in the middle pages were a long list of names- 34 Wallabies and 35 Scots.
Apparently, it was then up to the spectator to become a sleuth and somehow put a number next to a name.
Downright amateur, and a complete rip off.
Sadly, another fizzer was the chance for the spectators to run around on the field after the game. A grand idea, which would have worked perfectly if the Wallabies had made proper use of any of their opportunities in the final minutes to enjoy a heart-thumping victory.
They can't blame the crowd for their loss, because they did all they could to will them over the line. All were on their feet from the 75th minute on, but yet again the Wallabies let them down. Some may never come back. There is only such much exasperation a person can take.
Eventually the crowd were allowed to run onto the ground, and quite a few showed quicker pace off the mark and smarter running lines than a disjointed and sometimes clueless Wallabies attack. But it all felt a bit hollow, as none of the youngsters could go home to boast: "Hey mum, I just ran on the field where the Wallabies enjoyed this sensational last minute win."
You don't really want to recall occasions when you witnessed Wallaby flops.
Those deserving of admiration were the Scots, who were without three or four core performers, but played a highly skilful, highly motivated, well organised game. That Scottish in your face attitude has for so long irritated the Wallabies, who hate direct confrontation. But there was far more to their triumph than just mongrel. They possessed class.
Scotland's No 10 Finn Russell (yes, I was able to place the right number next to the right name in the match program) was exceptional, and it's no surprise the British & Irish Lions were beckoning for him straight after the game to get to New Zealand as soon as he can for the Test series. Russell controlled his team with aplomb. His passing and use of options was faultless, while scrum-half Ali Price filled the void left by their usual captain Greig Laidlaw being with the Lions. Still no one came near Russell in the man-of-the-match calculations.
Maybe some clues could be provided at the press conferences, which were held in a gymnasium room, next door to a squash court.
Over the years, this room has been the venue of some decidedly odd media conferences especially during a period when the Waratahs couldn't win a game, prompting an out-there journalist in search of a headline once handing a big wooden spoon to a coach in the hope of a provocative moment. Instead there was silence. There were no props on Saturday night, but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika looked ill at ease. He tried to remain upbeat, but his line that his team were 'half a yard behind' in most aspects of the game was damning.
Half a yard off the pace in a Test match is unacceptable. It indicates there is something rotten at the core of this team. As damning are the match statistics which showed that Australia enjoyed 56 percent possession and 62 percent territory, and still couldn't win.
Cheika, who boasts a mere 54 per cent success rate, talked about making changes for the Test against Italy next Saturday. He wanted players with more urgency and who had attitude.
You could have fooled me. I looked down the long, long list of Wallabies players in the Test program, and struggled to find any bleedingly obvious candidates. Maybe Cheika was referring to some of those excitable kids who had sped out of the blocks as soon as they were allowed on the field post-match. They certainly showed urgency.
Scotland captain John Barclay was eloquent. He explained how the Scots were accustomed to being described as brave. But it wasn't bravery that won this game. It was skill. So true.
Scotland had it. Australia had little.
And that question continues to hover. We had better confront it.
Okay....."What will the All Blacks do to the Wallabies?"
As several suggested on the long walk down the hill back to Central Station, maybe it's time to bring in a Bledisloe Cup mercy rule.