December 1, 2012 was a date on which the rugby world was turned upside down.
England were staring down the barrel of a triple whammy of defeats to the big three Southern Hemisphere nations.
Vanquished by Australia and South Africa on consecutive weekends, they next faced the mighty All Blacks, who were hunting the result that would cap an unbeaten 2012.
But at Twickenham, they found an England side who finally seemed comfortable in their own skin and, after a tight first half, roared into action with three second-half tries to send the old cabbage patch doolally.
Fast forward 12 months and the pair meet again. The world champions have conquered all before them so far in 2013 and are on course for a perfect 12 months.
England, humbled in Cardiff at the end of the Six Nations, are still building nicely, unbowed at home since seeing off the men in black and showing flashes of quality.
Could lightning strike twice in the far reaches of London's western suburbs on Saturday? Here are five reasons it might just happen.
In this century—in fact, since the game turned professional—no side has completed a calendar year in which they have won every match.
In 2012, New Zealand came closest, ending the year with a draw against Australia and that defeat at Twickenham as the blots on their ledger.
Taking refuge in this statistic to find optimism for Red Rose supporters ahead of Saturday might smack of desperation. But if it proves anything, it is that winning all your games from January to December is a task even the greatest teams struggle to accomplish.
With losses in form, changes in personnel and quality of opposition, rounding off a perfect 12 months is no mean feat.
England inflicted their only loss last year. Could they be the bogeymen again?
Illness and tiredness may have had something to do with the All Blacks’ defeat at Twickenham last season, but try telling that to an Englishman who was there.
Stuart Lancaster’s side found the right way to play to unhinge New Zealand. They competed at the breakdown and, with ball in hand, they attacked flat, ran hard and ran at outside shoulders.
They are missing their destroyer in-chief from that day, Manu Tuilagi, but there will be a number of players wearing white on Saturday who know what it takes to beat New Zealand.
That is a rare commodity among Northern Hemisphere rugby players.
If you’re a believer in omens, this is England’s year. Never mind the anomaly that was that magnificent win in 2012 (and the one in 2002).
When there is a three in the year, England beat the All Blacks.
In 1983, a side skippered by hooker Peter Wheeler and containing Clive Woodward at centre and Nick Youngs—father of current England internationals Ben and Tom—at No. 9, won 15-9 at HQ thanks to a Maurice Colclough try and a conversion and three penalties from Dusty Hare.
In 1993, they won 15-9 in a game remembered for a nasty stamp by Jamie Joseph on debutant Kyran Bracken’s ankle, but the scrum-half completed the game and Jon Callard’s five penalties were enough to trump Jeff Wilson’s three.
In 2003, en route to World Cup glory, Martin Johnson led his men to victory on New Zealand soil in a rain-lashed Wellington with four Jonny Wilkinson penalties and a drop goal in a 15-12 win.
England even held out in a five-metre scrum with six men after seeing Lawrence Dallaglio and Neil Back binned.
England have won six on the spin at home and won nine of their last 10 games.
In terms of stats, those numbers stack up only second behind New Zealand, and they have not looked as good to English eyes since the heady days of Clive Woodward’s reign.
As every pundit and his dog has been keen to point out about Australia this season, losing can become a habit. Well, so can winning and apart from that chastening night in Cardiff this year, it is a habit England know well.
Beating them on their home patch is becoming a tall order.
They might look far from artistic in attack, but they are not an easy team to steamroll, and New Zealand, as they found in Paris on Saturday, will have to work hard to find the gaps in the white wall.
The loss of Alex Corbisiero is a blow to England, but they seem to be building a pack capable of turning England’s scrum into a weapon against New Zealand.
On New Zealand's loosehead side, Tony Woodcock is solid as rock. But at tight head, they have operated a revolving door with the likes of Owen Franks and Charlie Faumuina sharing the starting No. 3 shirt.
England must sense an opportunity to attack this area, and if they can unsettle this source of possession for the All Blacks, they could find a way to smashing their backs way behind the gain line, where the likes of Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood could come into their own to turn ball over.