The transition from Sir John Who to Bill English was going so well for the National Party. New leadership, new front bench, more surpluses, high polls, higher incomes.
The National Party conference at the weekend was meant to be the launching pad for English as the "inclusive" leader, three months out from the election.
It was a departure for a leader in election year to opt for a "vision" speech instead of promises of bridges, roads and bypasses, although the vision turned out to be maybe more tax-cuts after the next lot of tax cuts.
A new video featuring English as everyman reinforced the inclusive theme - along with original music titled "Let's Get Together."
The Todd Barclay issue did not overshadow the conference in any obvious way.
The tactic of the organisers was a bit like Barclay's own tactic with police over the recording of his Clutha-Southland electorate agent: say nothing in the hope it would fade from the headlines.
There were oblique references to last week's tough week, when English was forced to release his police statement on the matter and Barclay was forced to resign.
The silent treatment appeared to working for English until the television interviews he did for shows on Friday aired on Saturday and Sunday morning.
English himself kept the story alive and provided a distraction to the conference.
His repeated claims that "the fact of a recording has never been established" piqued a fresh round of interest in the case and what English meant by that.
He may have meant that "criminality has never been established" but he didn't say that.
He appeared to question whether the recordings had ever existed.
Also fuelling interest in the comments are the alternative theories that have been circulating as to what happened in that electorate office in Gore in February last year, when the MP fell out with English's former electorate agent, Glenys Dickson.
Friends of Barclay have variously suggested that 1. The dictaphone was left running accidentally - with no intent there would be no crime; 2. Barclay may have been in the office when the dictaphone was running, meaning he might be able to argue she could not have expected privacy 3. Someone else may have made the recording. 4. That there was no recording at all but it was something he said in order to suggest he had proof of his electorate agent speaking ill of him.
The last alternative would be almost as serious as the original complaint because the agent was given a large pay-out to stave off legal action over the recordings.
If it is any solace for English, it may be that Key would almost certainly have been in the gun himself if he were still the leader, and possibly more so, because the pay-out was authorised by him from his discretionary fund.
English has not faced such a crisis. He is not as nimble as Key was in the dark art of deflection.
There are potentially three more days of wall-to-wall questions to English about it the crisis - and the latest revelation that Barclay offered to play him the recording.
At least English admitted the offer when asked - although he appeared to be contemplating a "can't recall" answer when he repeated the question and hesitated before confirming it.
Any re-opening of the police investigation would be a perfect reason for English shut up about it.
But with English's propensity to stoke the fire unintentionally, this saga may have a long way to run yet.