The All Blacks are sweating on the fitness of Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith who have been given more time to assess the severity of their injuries suffered during the first up thrashing of Scotland on Monday.
The midfield pairing that impressed against the Scot's received scans today but the All Blacks medical staff is waiting before they make a final decision on their health and what role they might play in the remainder of the tour.
Ellison is hampered by a toe injury while Smith has fractured his cheekbone, and while neither will take the field this weekend against Italy there remains hope they could yet participate in the remaining two Tests against Wales and England.
"Tamati's got a sore toe," explained All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster at a team press conference in Rome today.
"There's ligament damage on the side of the toe which is a little bit unusual so we're just going to give ourselves a few days now that we know what it is to see how quickly it settles down.
"Ben Smith has got a small fracture in his cheek and so again we're not sure at this stage whether he's going to play again on this tour.
"We'll give ourselves maybe two or three days just to see how he settles down."
The situation is causing Foster and head coach Steve Hansen plenty of concern as their midfield stocks will be left thin should the two players be ruled out of further action.
While Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu were always likely to start against Wales and England, both Ellison and particularly Smith, would have likely filled a bench spot as midfield cover.
Star first five-eighth Dan Carter can slot into second-five at a pinch if required this weekend, yet the possibility of Nonu or the more senior Smith being damaged against the Italians is prompting caution from the All Blacks brains' trust.
While the All Blacks adopt a wait and see approach before calling for reinforcements, Canterbury's Robbie Fruean and Ryan Crotty are possibilities for a call-up, while Tim Bateman is close at hand on tour through the UK with the Maori All Blacks.
Add to this the uncertainty over Adam Thomson place in the squad, pending his appointment with the judiciary tonight, and the All Blacks could be farewelling three of their top-line squad.