It stands to reason that when Treasury says things are not as bad as first thought but will be worse in the medium term that Labour would seize on the former, and National on the latter.
And that Winston Peters would be sour on them both.
Peters' message was that the books paint such a sorry picture that the country needs his wisdom. It could not afford to be left with inexperienced decision-makers around the Cabinet table.
The pre-election opening of the books is required under law of Treasury - they are not prepared by Grant Robertson, who has lasted longer as Finance Minister than Peters did.
The books are not dramatically different to the forecasts in the May Budget. They were bad then and they are bad now as the economic effects of Covid-19 bite.
They include 100,000 more unemployed in the next two years, operating deficits for at least the next 15 years, and net core Crown debt ballooning to $201 billion over four years.
Act's David Seymour's message from the opening of the books was that the country needs his honesty to talk about out-of-control spending and getting debt down after the economic sugar hit wears off.
He has a point. So eye-watering are the figures that an adjustment downwards of $4 billion by Treasury in the overall Covid funding from $62 billion to $58 billion over four years barely raised a response.
Robertson's message was that the country needs his balanced approach, that he had cushioned the blow in subsidies for 1.7 million jobs and the outlook would be worse under National.
Robertson compared National's fiscal plan with the Bermuda Triangle, saying it wanted to
increase spending, reduce revenue and reduce debt which could not be done at once.
"I think their plan is lost somewhere in that triangle," he said creatively, given that National's fiscal plan has yet to be launched.
In Robertson's allegory, perhaps Judith Collins is the skipper of the Mary Celeste. And for a day or two National is somewhat marooned until it releases its fiscal plan later this week.
Collins' message is that the country needs National's discipline and management to get the sort of growth needed to recover.
She and first mate Paul Goldsmith said the figures were "catastrophic" and Robertson should not be sugar-coating the figures.
She is right, that the figures are terrifying - on paper. Collins' problem is that until the sugar-coating is removed, the recession will not feel like a reality.