National doesn't need its Jacinda Ardern or even its next John Key – it needs its Andrew Little.
Reports of the National Party's demise will almost inevitably prove premature, but it is certainly a broken beast, and the most broken part is its most visible part: the caucus.
There was plenty of chaos in Labour's nine years in Opposition – but National is making them look like amateurs.
The party is due to meet soon to decide on some changes to its internal rules.
That may well help in the future, if it delivers strong future MPs. It will do little to help the party in the now.
At the moment, the party needs a rebuild leader.
The caucus is too broken for a Jacinda Ardern or John Key right now. They are better fair-weather leaders.
Ardern and Key both benefited from the leaders before them doing the rebuild work.
For Key, that was Don Brash. Brash was not an organiser or politically savvy. But he did not have the baggage from years of civil war.
To the surprise of some, he restored the credibility of the party among National's support base and – critically – got the polling up to within cooee of taking the 2005 election out. As the polling rose, so did the discipline.
His term transformed them from a wreck into a credible alternative government. He then willingly handed over to Key, recognising Key was ready and the party's best chance for 2008.
Key took over a party that was on the way up, having been given a chance by Brash to sharpen his teeth in the finance portfolio beforehand.
Little took over after Labour's disastrous result in 2014 under David Cunliffe.
Little was not the caucus choice – that was Grant Robertson - but nor was there antipathy toward him.
Importantly, Little had experience as party president and as a union organiser. He knew how to put a team together and make it work well.
He stabilised caucus.
Labour's polling nudged back into the 30s. Little's problem was he was not popular among the public.
When he stepped down and Ardern took over in 2017, she did not need to rebuild the caucus or overhaul policies. She simply needed to change the photos on the hoardings and be Jacinda Ardern.
National's caucus is far too broken at the moment for an Ardern. What they need is their Little.
At this point, a leader's public relatability is of secondary importance to someone who can haul that caucus back into shape.
The problem is National's Ardern is more easily identifiable than its Little. The Ardern is Christopher Luxon. If Luxon isn't their Ardern, then they're really in trouble.
Their Andrew Little was supposed to be Todd Muller. It could be Nicola Willis – but Willis' foolish decision to involve herself in Muller's coup of Bridges may have spoiled her chances.
It might once have been Simon Bridges and it might even still be Simon Bridges.
But the Little needs to be someone for whom there are no lingering undercurrents of resentment.
On that criteria, Luxon could be both National's Little and its Ardern.
He would have to be persuaded into it – and the risk for him in waiting is that whoever does take the Little shift actually gets to be PM.
The only sure thing now is that it is not Judith Collins.
It may be unfair and Collins may well feel she has not been allowed a good run by her caucus. But it is the reality.
Both Little and Brash were helped by MPs realising the hard way that internal chaos hits hardest at the ballot box.
Their caucuses, by and large, decided to buckle down rather than suffer the same fate again.
Thus far, the 2020 caucus have refused to apply that lesson from that election result nine months ago.
Collins' problem is not only the leaking and back-stabbing. Many of the MPs simply do not seem to be motivated to actually work.
Only a handful of their front bench MPs are doing their jobs consistently well: Chris Bishop on Covid, and Nicola Willis in housing are most consistent.
The bulk of their key players are not functioning as they should or could be.
Splitting the finance portfolio between Andrew Bayly and Michael Woodhouse remains an unconvincing move.
Since the Budget in May, National has put only two questions to Finance Grant Robertson.
One reason given for that is that the party is allocated fewer questions than it used to.
Bayly has also decided to focus on private meetings with business. But tackling the Government head on over the broader economy is critical.
It looks like an admission Robertson has defeated them - and Robertson is now openly mocking them for it.
Front benchers Todd McClay, Melissa Lee and Shane Reti are rarely heard from.
Simon Bridges only seems to wade in when he decides he can be bothered.
He is performing well short of what he is capable of.
He has a prodigious work ethic and the fact he's had time to write a book shows where that has been directed. Nor can Collins complain, since she wrote a book on Bridges' watch.
There are always those who object to the media focussing on the trials and tribulations of the Opposition.
This week they included Collins, who, even as she created another distraction by her dramatic ousting of Todd Muller, argued she should be asked about issues such as hate speech rather than the contretemps or misbehaving MPs.
Opposition parties need to be held to account as well as governments.
If an Opposition is not functioning, it is not an alternative government – it is a wreck. If there is no alternative government, then there is also little choice.