Ireland's entire November series has been building up to the All Blacks clash, with the opening fixtures against Italy and Argentina becoming nearly like warm-up games for head coach Joe Schmidt.
"That's why we limit ourselves to once every 15 years because we don't want to get carried away with things".
A determined Keith Earls run had the majority of the crowd on their feet as Ireland began to make headway and they eventually settled for three points from Sexton's boot when the All Blacks were penalised for offside.
Considering New Zealand's high penalty count, they were fortunate to not see a man sent to the sin bin during that first half, while Ireland would have been disappointed to only enjoy a three-point lead at the break.
"The ball went out of touch but it was thrown back in quickly so I think the ball was in play for over four minutes and 22 seconds", recalls flanker Chris Henry.
Ireland were languishing in eighth place in the world rankings when Schmidt took the helm in late 2013.
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"A hundred seconds of pretty agonising viewing for us". "I know we have to prepare as well as we can physically". It was some conditioning, but mostly skill work and just trying to implement what it would be like at the end of a game.
The absence of Murray, who plays a crucial role in Ireland's kicking game, has created an opportunity for Kieran Marmion to impress the Ireland coach, while 6ft 10in Devin Toner has replaced Iain Henderson in the second row ahead of the anticipated aerial contest this weekend. That said, its last defeat in Dublin came at the hands of New Zealand in November 2016.
"You've got to admire all of that, it's winning and they'll punish you".
Furlong was instrumental in the win over the All Blacks in Chicago, but took his game to another level at the Aviva Stadium, and was a real highlight, despite the fact that Ireland couldn't get the result. "If you had Murray on there I'd be a lot more confident".
"All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said that the victor of this game could justifiably claim to the world's best team and, while they remain No 2 on the rankings, Joe Schmidt's Ireland are top of the world".
Henry's former Ulster and Ireland team-mate Darren Cave is also bullish about Ireland's prospects of toppling the All Blacks and believes that Schmidt will be hugely motivated to upset the world number one team. They controlled the play and pressurised the opposition line but, to the home side's credit, they produced an outstanding defensive set to negate that threat.
How to watch Ireland vs New Zealand.