This paper quantifies the instantaneous form of large-scale turbulent structures in canonical smooth-wall boundary layers, demonstrating that they adhere to a form that is consistent with the self-sustaining streak instability model suggested by Flores & Jiménez (Phys. Fluids, vol. 22, 2010, 071704) and Hwang & Cossu (Phys. Fluids, vol. 23, 2011, 061702). Our motivation for this study stems from previous observations of large-scale streaks that have been spatially locked in position within spanwise-heterogeneous boundary layers. Here, using similar tools, we demonstrate that the randomly occurring large-scale structures in canonical layers show similar behaviour. Statistically, we show that the signature of large-scale coherent structures exhibits increasing meandering behaviour with distance from the wall. At the upper edge of the boundary layer, where these structures are severely misaligned from the main-flow direction, the induced velocities associated with the strongly yawed vortex packets/clusters yield a significant spanwise-velocity component leading to an apparent oblique coherence of spanwise-velocity fluctuations. This pronounced meandering behaviour also gives rise to a dominant streamwise periodicity at a wavelength of approximately
. We further statistically show that the quasi-streamwise roll-modes formed adjacent to these very large wavy motions are often one-sided (spanwise asymmetric), in stark contrast to the counter-rotating form suggested by conventional conditionally averaged representations. To summarise, we sketch a representative picture of the typical large-scale structures based on the evidence gathered in this study.