Wallabies captain James Horwill admits his side was lacking in confidence when they were trounced twice by the All Blacks in August.
Having spent just two weeks training under new coach Ewen McKenzie, the Wallabies were outclassed 49-27 and 27-16, losing the Bledisloe Cup for an 11th straight year in the process embroidery logo.
However they have now spent six games and two months together, and Horwill is confident they'll close the gap on their trans-Tasman rival in the third Bledisloe Test in Dunedin on Saturday night.
"There had been a bit of a whirlwind - we had a new coach, new structures, everything had been new and we tried to put it together very quickly," he said.
"Guys were a little bit unsure about what was happening. Just a lack of confidence in the way we wanted to play."
The Wallabies will be further aided by the late withdrawal of breakdown maestro Richie McCaw, with Horwill stating his absence "will leave a pretty big hole to fill".
The All Blacks captain was ruled out of the dead-rubber due to a tight calf, with coach Steve Hansen saying he wasn't prepared to risk him ahead of the end of season tour.
Yet his 21-year-old replacement Sam Cane is more than up to the task.
He's already notched up 12 caps for the world champions, including a man-of-the-match performance in the All Blacks' recent outing against Argentina.
"Sam Cane is an excellent player who has been playing very well and I don't think they'll lose too much," Horwill said
McCaw, famous for pushing the envelope at the breakdown, has handed the captaincy reins over to fellow backrower Kieran Read cloud.
The All Blacks' repeated infringements whilst defending their line in the first two Bledisloe Cup Tests had a huge impact.
On several occasions the Wallabies' momentum was stalled and they were forced to take three points instead of pushing for seven.
Australian coach Ewen McKenzie expressed frustration at the questionable tactics after the second Test, however Horwill said he hadn't spoken to referee Craig Joubert about the issue in the lead up to the Test.
"We need to be more clinical. You can look around and blame other people but we need to be better than we were," Horwill said.
The Wallabies have had their share of injuries following their 54-17 thumping of Argentina in Rosario two weeks ago.
Inside centre Christian Lealiifano (ankle) will be replaced by Matt Toomua CCIBA, while ninth-choice winger Peter Betham will make his debut in place of Joe Tomane (hamstring).
Ben McCalman will also replace Scott Fardy (eye) in the Wallabies backrow.