Australia believe they have closed the gap on New Zealand ahead of next year's World Cup despite a third Tri-Nations defeat this year by the All Blacks.
Saturday's Test was a bruising encounter
The Wallabies were beaten 37-24 in Auckland on Saturday, after 32-12 and 13-9 losses earlier in the competition.
"We are incredibly disappointed but fairly confident that we are not far away," said coach John Connolly.
"Anyone who saw that game will be thinking there is not much difference between those two sides."
Connolly's comments were echoed by flanker Phil Waugh, who believes Australia's display at Eden Park may have seriously unnerved the All Blacks, despite their fourth Tri-Nations title in five years.
"They haven't been beaten in a long while (14 Tests) and history shows that they've been very good between World Cups but stumble at the World Cup," Waugh said.
Australia have made more progress in the Tri-Nations than the All Blacks
Former New Zealand coach Laurie Mains
"So there is obviously a lot of pressure on them. But we've gained a whole lot of confidence from that game."
The All Blacks wrapped up the Tri-Nations title with two Tests - both in South Africa - still to come, while the Wallabies complete their campaign in Johannesburg on 9 September.
But despite the apparent ease with which they have won the tournament, New Zealand commentators also acknowledged Australia have made progress under Connolly, after eight defeats in nine Tests last year.
Former All Blacks coach Laurie Mains said: "Australia has come a long way. They've made more progress in the Tri-Nations than the All Blacks.
"The Australians broke the line more than in the first two (Bledisloe Cup) Tests and that will give them a lot of confidence with the World Cup still a year away."
Former All Blacks fly-half Grant Fox added: "The All Blacks have not been physically challenged like that for a long time... (with) a bludgeoning and abrasive approach to the breakdown."
We want to give the All Blacks the best possible chance of winning the World Cup
The majority of New Zealand's likely World Cup squad will miss half of next year's Super 14 tournament to take part in an intensive conditioning programme ahead of the tournament.
The individually-tailored programme, from January to April 2007, will keep around 22 All Blacks out of the first seven rounds of the Super 14.
"We want to give the All Blacks the best possible chance of winning the Rugby World Cup," said NZRU chief executive Chris Moller.
"It is critical that our top players have the opportunity to prepare in the right way so that they are in the best shape of their lives when they get to France.
"Sports science research and our coaches tell us that the players need a continuous window when they can do the necessary physical conditioning work without the rigours of playing top level rugby at the same time."