In 1906, just 12 years on from the formation of the New Zealand Rugby Union, they set a standard that has barely dipped over the last century. The Kiwis completed 35 matches in a tour of North America, France and the United Kingdom and lost once.
Word spread of these dark-clothed conquerors and so did their new moniker of the All Blacks. Save for perhaps South Africa, no Test side's record stands up prettily against New Zealand in the present day and the British & Irish Lions are no exception.
The Lions have only once clinched a Test series in the Land of the Long White Cloud - John Dawes' legends of the 1971 tour inspired by Barry John and JPR Williams so victory in 2017 would be all the sweeter.
That's not to say there haven't been famous Lions efforts since the legends of 71, with three of four Tests being decided by four points or fewer in the 1977 tour. And in 1993, the slender 20-18 defeat in the first Test would come back to haunt a Lions side led by Gavin Hastings. But from Colin Meads to John Kirwan and modern day hero Richie McCaw, the All Blacks have always taken some stopping.
The first task in 2017 will be to banish the memories of 2005's 3-0 defeat in which Dan Carter and McCaw came of age. With another decade behind them, the pair have a combined collection of more than 250 caps and will go down as two of the most celebrated All Blacks in history.
Neither are likely to be lining up against the Lions in 2017 but if Carter and McCaw took a huge step on their path to stardom last time, then it's likely others will step up in their absence.
Indeed an All Blacks side is only as strong as its weakest link and without the star power of Carter in 2011, they still managed to lift the World Cup for the first time in 24 years - using their fourth-choice fly-half Stephen Donald in the final.
Neither have New Zealand waned since then, setting a new record by becoming the first nation to go the calendar year unbeaten in the professional era in 2013 before lifting the Webb Ellis Cup again in 2015.
As of 2015, they had not been beaten at home in six years yet the Lions must topple them twice to emerge victorious. That fact alone leaves no doubt that the 2017 tourists will face head on the ultimate Test in rugby, if not all of sport.
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