The brevity of the Champions Trophy can make assessment of a team's fortunes difficult, and potentially a little unfair, especially when the weather has intervened. New Zealand played down any frustration after being denied a likely victory over Australia. Who knows whether it actually did knock the wind out of their sails.

Ultimately, however, in the two matches unaffected by the weather they have come up short and are the first side in the tournament to slope off home needing to digest what went wrong. This competition brings an end to an extensive period of action for them which began back in South Africa last August and only really stopped for the IPL, in which a host of key names were involved, and is a chance to take stock at the midway point to the next World Cup.

The side that reached the final of the 2015 World Cup came during a golden age for New Zealand and losing Brendon McCullum, Daniel Vettori and Grant Elliott were shoes of varying vastness to fill. However, the game moves on and one wonders if New Zealand have. Three players from that 2015 side were recalled for this tournament - Corey Anderson, Adam Milne and the unused Mitchell McClenaghan. Milne certainly deserves a pass mark, his pace eye-catching and his slower balls deceptive, but Anderson's batting appears to have regressed.

If New Zealand want to be a force again in two years' time, at the 2019 World Cup on these shores, there needs to be a period of introspection. This side has two of the best one-day cricketers, Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, and three more very fine players: Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor and Tim Southee. Four of them stood out against Bangladesh - Williamson and Taylor laying another solid base for the innings, then Southee and Boult finding new-ball movement that has been elusive in this tournament - but still the team came up short. That suggests outside of that core there is a soft underbelly.

Nothing better illustrates that than the trio of performances from the middle order in this tournament: against Australia they lost 7 for 37, against England 8 for 65 and against Bangladesh 5 for 51. They each came in tricky circumstances - two trying to accelerate the innings batting first and the other in a tough chase - and while, ideally, a team wants a set batsman to see through an innings, finishing is what the middle and lower order is there to do. The slumps are a pattern that can't be ignored.

The innings against Bangladesh could have taken a different course if it had not been for Williamson's self-inflicted run-out, but the captain can hardly have done much more over three matches with 244 runs. He needs some help. And, still, after that New Zealand had placed themselves on 201 for 3 with 11 overs to go when Taylor was deceived by Taskin Ahmed. They then proceeded to lose three wickets to the gentle offspin of Mosaddek Hossain before being shackled by the yorker skill of Rubel Hossain and Mustafizur Rahman.

"We certainly didn't play our best cricket," Williamson said. "We were in a position of strength with the bat, and if things were to go our way we know we have a lot of power in that middle, lower order. They are very talented. In such a short tournament, you want everyone firing and it wasn't to be. We left a few runs out there."

Between them Neil Broom, James Neesham and Anderson scored 126 runs in nine innings with a top individual effort being Broom's 36 off 40 balls against Bangladesh. Guptill needed to convert his starts as well, but he has an impressive record behind him. Broom is a 33-year-old who was tempted out of a county contract with Derbyshire for a second crack at international cricket. Neesham averages 27.03 after 41 ODIs. Since the 2015 World Cup, Anderson's top score in 14 ODIs is 35, albeit through multiple injuries during that time.

"Everyone sets out to perform their role as best they can and give to the side and play selfless cricket and that's certainly the attitude of the players," Williamson said. "In such a short tournament it perhaps appears to highlight certain areas that you want to strengthen. But we know in the past those guys have been playing some really good cricket. So we back every one of them, and we need to use this tournament to get better."

The roles of Neesham and Anderson also impact the bowling attack, the former being a weaker link than the latter who showed some signs of regaining his golden-arm touch from the World Cup. Against Bangladesh, Neesham's introduction in the 15th over was a point where Bangladesh started their revival as they found a way to release the pressure built up by Southee's opening seven-over spell of 3 for 26. Shakib ended Neesham's first over with a four through extra cover. Mahmudullah pulled him for a six and a four off consecutive deliveries in the 19th over to knock him out of the attack before he returned in the 44th for one final fruitless over.

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Fleming: Neesham and Anderson's future spots in question
Fleming: Neesham & Anderson's future spots in question

From the 15-man squad on duty for this tournament, Colin de Grandhomme might have been a better option than either Neesham or Anderson as an allrounder. De Grandhomme bowled effectively at times against South Africa earlier this year and is more adept, at least of late, of finding the boundary early in an innings.

There is a more limited supply of talent in New Zealand than many of the other major nations, but that has always been the case. It has been a source of pride, and often a great success story, that they have made those resources stretch as far as possible.

With that in mind it does seem a waste that Tom Latham was sidelined in this one-day side, especially after showing excellent form in the tri-series played in Dublin ahead of the Champions Trophy where a century against Ireland was sandwiched by scores of 54 and 84 against Bangladesh. Latham went through a lean run in the New Zealand home summer, and was part of the muddled thinking over the wicketkeeping role which saw Luke Ronchi given a late promotion to open, but remains someone who could form a solid foil with Guptill.

For other answers, that will require assessing what is back home. There was a glimpse at some of them during the tri-series in Ireland - George Worker, Seth Rance and Scott Kuggeleijn - while batsman Tom Bruce and wicketkeeper Tom Blundell had a brief taste last season. But there is not a magic solution. A few tough decisions may need to be made.

Global tournaments are normally New Zealand's place to show what they are made of, but on this occasion rather than punching above their weight they have been knocked to the canvas.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo