Ireland knew they had everything they needed to be competitive at this year's Rugby World Cup and after a strong 2018, they entered this year's tournament as a favourite to dethrone the All Blacks.
But therein lies the problem.
After a stellar 2018 which saw Ireland claim the Six Nations with a grand slam, they also beat the Wallabies 2-1 in a best-of-three series and collected their second win in three Tests against the All Blacks with a 16-9 victory in Dublin.
The team was even crowned World Rugby's team of the year for their efforts and took the No.1 spot off the All Blacks for a while but all of it meant nothing in Japan this year.
The Irish side were stunned in pool play when they lost 19-12 to hosts Japan, eventually finishing second in Group A and therefore having to meet two-time defending champions the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Ireland couldn't replicate their giant-slaying prowess in Tokyo as the All Blacks went on to claim a 46-14 win and move on to the semis, leaving coach Joe Schmidt to ponder.
The departing coach said his side peaked too early.
"I do think when you hit a height there is always, I guess, a little bit of a drop - it's not perfect," Schmidt said.
"We work with human beings."
Schmidt said the team had used this year's Six Nations as a chance to further develop younger members of the squad but when he needed it all to come together again, it simply didn't.
"I don't really have a reason other than on the night there's always anxiety, there's always guys who might overreach and as a result, you don't get the performance you were looking for."
The loss means Ireland are now 0-7 in Rugby World Cup knockout games, having never progressed past the quarter-finals.