OPINION: The All Whites face a daunting challenge against South American powerhouse Peru, with the Intercontinental Playoff getting underway in Wellington on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the loss of talismanic striker Paolo Guerrero, the 10th best side in the world is a huge test for Anthony Hudson and his men.
Here's four things New Zealand have to do if they're any chance of making it to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Produce a tight performance at the back
An obvious statement, but still an important one.
The All Whites can't afford to get off to a bad start in front of their home fans. A dodgy performance in defence will kill the tie before the return leg in Lima. Starting at home is not necessarily a good or a bad thing, but the away goals rule means New Zealand can't afford to concede a flurry of strikes in the capital.
That all starts at the back, with the inspirational Winston Reid. Although he looked short of a gallop for West Ham against Liverpool, the All Whites need a Ryan Nelsen-esque performance from the skipper, alongside Tommy Smith and probably Michael Boxall.
A good showing in Wellington will keep the tie alive, and give them something to play for in South America.
Sort out their wing-backs
A problem that reared its head during this year's Confederations Cup was the instability of the All Whites' defenders out wide.
Hudson has often rotated his wing-backs, but it's hard to say anyone has 100 percent nailed down a spot.
Dane Ingham was torn to shreds against Mexico, while Kip Colvey struggled against Russia. Deklan Wynne and Storm Roux are the others in the mix, but it's probably the one position in the squad that's still open.
Whoever fills the role, and I'd personally go for Wynne and Roux, it's crucial they fulfill their defensive duties, as well as getting forward if they can.
It's likely Peru will look to get in behind on the flanks, and expose their weaknesses out wide.
Give Ryan Thomas the ball as much as possible
While Reid and striker Chris Wood are the main men in the side, midfielder Ryan Thomas is just as important.
The classy Dutch-based 22-year old is the crucial link in the middle for the All Whites, and they need to give him as many touches as they can. Thomas is the player who seems to have the most time for New Zealand, and is gifted off both feet and able to pick a pass.
He's always had an eye for goal, but his defensive robustness and lung-busting performances in the middle of the park have impressed.
If the All Whites are to get a result, Thomas will need to be at the heart of everything.
Use Chris Wood in the right areas
The Burnley marksman has seamlessly fitted into the Premier League, and the All Whites will be hoping he can bring some of that big game experience into the home and away playoff.
Wood has been isolated in the past for the All Whites, and they can't afford to pump aimless balls from the back towards him all afternoon long.
Peru will be perfectly happy for him to get the ball on the halfway line, so New Zealand need to focus on giving him good service in and around the box.
There's no doubt about his ability in the air, but he's also capable of intelligent runs in behind, and it's always an option to give it to his feet.
If the All Whites can chuck a few decent deliveries into the six-yard box from out wide, he's always a chance of popping up and heading one home.
Henry Rounce is a sports reporter for Newshub