Coach Mike Hesson concedes New Zealand are "a long way off the pace" in Test cricket and lack the depth of options available in the shorter forms.
Hesson was in a forthright mood upon returning from a six-week tour of South Africa full of contrasts.
After losing the Twenty20 series 2-1, the Black Caps were thrashed in both Tests before bouncing back to win the one-day international series 2-1.
Hesson was pleased several newcomers were introduced in the T20 games and proud of how his shellshocked players responded to the Test drubbings in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth with aggression in the ODI series.
However, the limp Test efforts against the world No.1 ranked Proteas will be occupying Hesson's mind ahead of a home series against world No.2 England, fresh from a 2-1 Test triumph on Indian soil.
"We are a long way off the pace in Test cricket at the moment. We have to acknowledge that and we know we've got a lot of work to do," Hesson said.
"We don't quite have the depth that we have in other forms of the game so we have to make sure we select the right people and show faith in them and give them time to grow their game. That doesn't happen overnight."
Hesson will monitor player form in Plunket Shield matches over the next month, while a New Zealand XI four-day fixture against England in Queenstown from February 27 will give fringe players a chance to press their claims ahead of the three-Test series.
The batting top order remains a problem area.
Hesson says much effort was invested in improving opener Martin Guptill's technique in South Africa yet he still struggled.
"Opening the batting in South Africa is a tough spot, a lot of players have gone over there and struggled.
"The next week to 10 days are important for Marty to get back to what he needs to be doing."
Hesson is confident seam bowler Tim Southee will overcome the thumb injury that has sidelined him for six weeks and be fit for the England Tests.
Southee will bowl in the nets this week in Whangarei but won't play in the two Twenty20 warm-up matches against England on Monday and Wednesday as he can't yet hold a bat.
Injury has veteran spinner Daniel Vettori in doubt for the Test series while former captain Ross Taylor will play in Whangarei and is expected to return in the Twenty20 series starting on February 9 after pulling out of the South African tour.
In-form batsman Jesse Ryder revealed on Sunday he is still unavailable for national duties.