Amidst all the hype and excitement of fans and supporters following the British and Irish Lions tour down in New Zealand, the players themselves were taught a stern lesson in how to win rugby matches on Saturday morning by the world’s best team, and arguably one of the best ever.

Questions had been raised before over Warren Gatland’s selection, with Liam Williams selected at full-back and Peter O’Mahony chosen as captain and blindside flanker ahead of tour captain Sam Warburton.

In a first half where the Lions were pegged back by the All Blacks, Williams’ mesmerising run from his own 22 to eventually set up Sean O’Brien via Elliot Daly’s jinking stood out as one of the great Lions tries.

O’Mahony’s 53 minutes on the field were solid if unspectacular, but the Lions were still in the game at 13-8 down.

New Zealand clinical with two tries from quick penalties

The Lions had moments when they really should have gone over the line, but two quick penalties from the majestic Aaron Smith setting up Codie Taylor – whose pickup seemed more Nehe Milne-Skudder than a second choice hooker - out in acres of space on the wing, and Rieko Iaone, who justified his selection ahead of one of the most prolific try scorers in history in Julian Savea, on either side of half time came as a blow as New Zealand began to stamp their authority on the first test.

Gatland’s issues came when, looking to chase the game at the 60-minute mark, a point where the All Blacks are notoriously better than any other team at stepping up a gear, he was left with only Johnny Sexton and Leigh Halfpenny as options from the bench.

The Lions had experimented with Sexton and Farrell earlier on the tour against the Crusaders and it certainly seemed to stifle the creativity and excitement of the Lions backline. Worcester centre Ben Te’o had the most carries for the men in red with nine, albeit half the number of the monstrous Kieran Read, who played as if he’d been rested for six minutes rather than injured for six weeks following a broken thumb in April.

When Te’o was taken off, having left his mark with a bone-shattering tackle on former teammate Sonny Bill Williams, the Lions midfield was left struggling to break the gain line, but for a silky sidestepping show from Anthony Watson before he offloaded in a situation where taking the tackle would have arguably been the better choice.

Reliable replacements but missing the X factor

From those not involved in the 23, Jack Nowell is the most likely to force his way into contention if he plays well against the Hurricanes, as Daly and Watson are both capable of covering full-back and both played well in the defeat, and Sexton and Farrell provide reliable goal-kicking options. Kyle Sinckler was excellent in his late cameo but there are suggestions it came slightly too late, while Maro Itoje did his reputation no harm with a few big hits and lineout steals, whilst Alun Wyn Jones may feel Courtney Lawes and Itoje breathing down his neck, though he may be saved by an atypically underwhelming performance from Saracens lock George Kruis.

Of course, we must remember that this New Zealand side have won consecutive World Cups and have arguably the best players in each position when fit. Ben Smith’s injury in the first half meant Aaron Cruden replaced him at the 25-minute mark, pushing Beauden Barrett back to full back, but New Zealand still looked comfortable with everything the Lions threw at them, minus Williams’ break for the try.

Pundits and fans alike are running out of superlatives for Barrett, the world’s best player who served his apprenticeship under the great Dan Carter. He has already made 50 international appearances at the age of 26. Without droning on about how good New Zealand are as an outfit, for fear of sounding like the insufferable Stuart Barnes, Barrett displayed his skills with a one-handed pick up while facing his own try line, Read offloaded to Aaron Smith from the floor to set up Iaone’s first try, and the 20-year-old, making only his third appearance for the All Blacks, outpaced England’s fastest player in Daly to score his second of the match.

There are not too many selection issues for Gatland as no one had a terrible game, but as Clive Woodward suggested, tactical changes have to be made in order to salvage something from the tour.

Is there a way to nullify All Blacks attacking threat?

Playing it safe and box-kicking is a wise move in the northern hemisphere, especially with a scrum half as good as Conor Murray exploiting that tactic, but Ben Smith is one of the world’s best under the high ball and – despite a few issues in the first test – will be back to his best by the time next Saturday comes around in Wellington.

New Zealand were clinical and the Lions weren’t, it could be made to be that simple. The Lions need their replacements to do something unexpected, and preferably a touch of genius, unlike Liam Williams’ drop which allowed Iaone to speed away and put the game out of reach for the Lions.

Either way, there is hope as the Lions remained in the game for 60 minutes and offered hope they can improve next time around, but the All Blacks proved irresistible once again.

Aaron Smith’s rugby brain and quick thinking showed why he is the best in the world in his position, while the engine room saw Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick turn in two of the best performances in a black shirt.

Read did what he does every game and carried and led his charges in an exemplary fashion, whilst Iaone justified Steve Hansen’s decision to leave formidable wingers Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea and Waisake Naholo out of the starting 15

Only four times in 31 Lions tours has the team who lost the first test gone on to win the series, could 2017 be the time to raise that number to five?