A small cottage stands in the grounds of Premier House, the Prime Minister's Wellington residence.
It is the door John Key would knock on if he ever ran out of sugar, or desperately needed milk for his tea.
So it was apt the cottage's keys went straight to his trusted lieutenant Steven Joyce in the divvy-up of ministerial housing, giving him the same digs as Jim Bolger's right hand man, Bill Birch.
Joyce is the man Key turns to for much more than milk and sugar; he's the go-to guy for advice on running the entire show. When Key gets back to work next week, he will count on Joyce's assessment of what went down in his two weeks away.
That will obviously include the Bill English housing saga. Joyce is virtually unknown to the public, but his standing is so high within the party that before English took the heat out of the issue on Monday Joyce was the obvious successor in the finance role if change were needed.
After being ushered in off the street into a top Cabinet role, Joyce's strategy role makes him one of the Government's most powerful ministers - with some strikingly similar characteristics to Key.
He has done in an instant what some MPs fail to do in their entire career, making it look all too easy with an accomplished performance in the House and with his portfolios.
Joyce's transition this year from ordinary citizen to parliamentarian and his influential role make more sense when his backroom role with National in recent years is taken into account.
He was the "retired" multi-millionaire media mogul to whom the party turned after its disastrous 2002 election result. As its general manager he reviewed, reorganised and refocused it enough to get Don Brash within a whisker of victory in 2005.
He has been demonised as a Hollow Man for approving the Iwi/Kiwi billboards and dealing with the Brethren. But the turnaround result means no matter what Labour says about him in public it must fear and respect him as a political operator.
Joyce took up a tactical role in Key's office when he took over as Opposition leader, gaining critical experience in watching Parliament and learning how ministers should (and more importantly should not) act, and was campaign manager in last year's election.
His seamless move into Parliament may be unparalleled. It surpasses Margaret Wilson, who was similarly parachuted into the Cabinet for Labour and while also steeped in party politics was not a particularly comfortable fit with parliamentary politics.
He has already ridden out his novice stage in the House, rarely being riled by his far more experienced Labour opposite in transport, high-flyer Darren Hughes.
Joyce, having earned his fortune building up the Radioworks network, also has the real-world commercial experience less prevalent in National than one might expect of the favoured party of business.
He is now putting this double-whammy of commercial and political nous to work in his two grunty portfolios of Transport and Communications and Information Technology.
Both involve huge spend-ups, but with not enough money in the pot for what needs be done. And both have plenty of complications and competing agendas.
Officials have had to adjust to Joyce's chief executive style and the private sector pace he cracks.
In one of his many similarities to Key, he is from the "whatever works" school rather than a conviction politician.
In IT, he is overseeing the one-off $1.5 billion investment in broadband the Government is using to entice private companies to put up the rest and get the cable into the ground. Here he is grappling with Telecom: keeping it close but not too close; at arm's length but not too far away.
In Transport, he has put $10.7 billion aside for seven roads of "national significance", with the electrification of Auckland's rail going on the backburner - essentially buying himself a road versus rail fight.
How Joyce handles this in the next year will be the big challenge that could end his easy run, with the doubts raised about his commitment to public transport set to fester through the Super City mayoral race and into the next election.
The public will also get a good chance to assess Joyce as he deals with road safety decisions that everybody has a view on, such as the drink-drive limit, the give-way rule and raising the driver age.
His antennae will be firmly locked on to the political sensitivities after his move to ban cellphone use while driving resulted in the dreaded "nanny state" tag being put on National by some of its staunchest supporters.
But the road toll needs whatever works as much as anything, and Joyce will be tested by whether he can get the public on side with changes the political marketeer in him would probably prefer to see "neutralised".
His attempts to build consensus before such changes can be seen in the debate he deliberately stirred recently by saying he could drink three-quarters of a bottle of wine in 90 minutes yet still have every chance of being under the legal limit.
The way these are dealt with will also be a wider test for the "whatever works" philosophy, with the potential that such arch-pragmatism can simply end up in political paralysis.
Importantly, Joyce shadows English as the Associate Minister of Finance and Infrastructure (it is understood he was the frontrunner for Infrastructure, until English pulled rank), keeping him involved in the two crucial portfolios. He is also expected to take another key role in the next election campaign. He is a firm part of the cabal driving National into the future.
At 46, Joyce has a long way to go should he choose to stick around in politics. Future moves include taking on more challenging portfolios that help him build on his image as an affable and competent public minister rather than just a strategy man. And despite English's detractors trying to promote a rivalry, much of this may be contrived and Joyce might not want to end up mired in Finance anyway.
Taking an electorate seat would also enhance his public standing.
Another of Joyce's similarities with Key is that both have the money and skills to simply walk away from politics when they have had enough.
He will know better than anyone that Key may leave before the 2014 election.
The man who built a business empire from nothing and came into Parliament from out of nowhere will not stay in the little house forever.
--By Patrick Gower Email Patrick