Wallabies star James O'Connor won't be making his long-awaited return against the record-seeking All Blacks - and also remains in doubt for next month's European rugby tour.
An experienced quartet was named on Saturday in Australia's extended 30-man squad for next weekend's third Bledisloe clash in Brisbane but O'Connor was left out.
A lingering hamstring problem has sidelined the talented utility back since late June but he'd been openly confident about returning against New Zealand on October 20 when the world champions aim to equal their record 17-match winning streak.
The only likely boost for injury-riddled Australia will come from the return of their most experienced back, Adam Ashley-Cooper.
He missed the Wallabies' 25-19 win over Argentina in Rosario due to a sickening head knock in the 31-8 loss to South Africa and will walk straight back into the starting XV.
Prop Sekope Kepu (knee), No.8 Wycliff Palu (shoulder) and winger Drew Mitchell (ankle) have been named in the squad but coach Robbie Deans will more likely ease them back into training with a view to making Test comebacks in Europe.
The Wallabies medical staff are taking a cautious approach with O'Connor after he tore the muscle for a second time this year on making a Super Rugby return for the Rebels against Queensland.
It means he's no certainty to be named for the tour against France (November 10), England (November 17), Italy (November 24) and Wales (December 1).
O'Connor is in the same "hopeful" bracket with injured leaders James Horwill (hamstring), David Pocock (knee) and Stephen Moore (hamstring) who remain optimistic about selection and making comebacks midway through the tour.
In the absence of O'Connor and fellow playmaker Quade Cooper (knee), Kurtley Beale has flourished at five-eighth and will pose the biggest danger to the full-strength All Blacks.
The versatile Ashley-Cooper's return does create a rare, welcome headache for Deans who must choose one of three rookies - winger Nick Cummins, centre Ben Tapuai or goalkicking fullback Mike Harris - to make way despite fine individual displays against the Pumas.
New Zealand will delay their arrival in Brisbane until late Thursday, assembling on Sunday for a five-day camp in Christchurch.