The Wallabies must win at their Eden Park graveyard next week if they're to keep alive hopes of stopping a 10-year Bledisloe Cup dynasty for New Zealand after falling 27-19 in the Rugby Championship opener at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
A string of attacking and defensive errors from fullback Kurtley Beale directly led to All Blacks flyers Israel Dagg and Corey Jane crossing for first-half tries and, despite having their opportunities and drawing the second half 9-9, the Wallabies weren't able to bridge the gap.
The All Blacks were rusty at times and the Wallabies refused to give up.
But they were punished for an opening 40 minutes littered with mistakes as New Zealand took a giant stride towards holding onto the Bledisloe Cup which has been in their possession since 2003.
Dan Carter rubbed salt into the wounds after the siren, booting a penalty kick to rob Australia of a crucial bonus point in the first game of the inaugural four-nation Rugby Championship.
Robbie Deans's men must now break a 26-year hoodoo against the All Blacks at Auckland's Eden Park and win the third Test in Brisbane on October 20 if they're to pull off a miracle recovery against the World Cup champions.
Veteran forward Nathan Sharpe gave the Wallabies hope in the shadows of halftime when he crashed over to be 18-10 behind and three Berrick Barnes penalties in the second half, including one with five minutes remaining, kept the match within reach.
Australia coach Robbie Deans admitted their was plenty of work to do.
"It has to be, we have to be better. That wouldn't be too hard I don't think," said Deans.
"We spent too long in our own half, and then tried to play too much rugby at that end as well and you can't do that against these blokes."
New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams had a mixed night in his much-anticipated return to ANZ Stadium after he controversially walked out on the NRL's Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs back in 2008.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen labelled the performance "rusty" and urged his players to finish the job at Eden Park.
"It's only a factor if the people wearing the jersey make it one."