The police armed response teams were unveiled at Counties Manukau police station, buff and photogenic officers flanking the Holden Acadia SUVs, lightbars flashing.
In the concrete bowels of the station that day in late 2019, commissioner Mike Bush referred to the dark blue cars.
"They are marked in a way that makes them look a little different, so that people know what they are."
But a lot of people couldn't figure out what the ARTs were. And those who did form an opinion of the six-month pilot were often vocally opposed, even fearful.
Almost two years later, a new police commissioner with a new police minister presented a new initiative.
In style and in substance, the new Tactical Response Model is a repudiation of the ARTs.
Commissioner Andrew Coster and Minister Poto Williams made the announcement in a restrained fashion at the police college in Porirua.
The project's name is generic, innocuous, but includes more detail than the ARTs' did.
The focus was on addressing police directly.
"It's an investment in ensuring you, our officers, return home safely every day," Williams said.
That was also the gist of the cops' message to the Herald during night-time ridealongs and other discussions last month.
The proposed model means more than 200 additional police officers will be qualified at the armed offenders squad standard.
It will be consequential for many in public safety teams or PSTs - those often referred to as frontline staff - who frequently respond to firearms callouts.
It will be consequential for dog handlers, who are often the first to enter unknown and potentially dangerous places when police respond to firearms jobs.
New positions are planned so dog handler units can operate as two-person teams.
Police say the new Tactical Response Model will double the annual tactical training days for frontline staff, starting with PSTs and road policing.
That training will also focus on tactical responses and de-escalation.
The new model also seems aimed at reassuring communities who felt unfairly profiled when the ARTs started rolling out in 2019.
The new model is nationwide, whereas the ARTs only focused on Auckland, Counties Manukau and Canterbury.
The Police Association said the new model fell short of the general arming most officers wanted.
But that line was sandwiched between unusually effusive praise.
"This comprehensive and well-researched response to the realities of our current environment recognises the status quo is no longer acceptable," the association's president Chris Cahill said.
"A plan by police to double the training of frontline officers must therefore be considered a serious and well-targeted response to officer concerns."
In fairness to Bush and the ARTs, Cahill said the 2019 project had won some positive feedback from cops.
"Many noted that the ability of the AOS-trained officers in these vehicles to quickly attend and de-escalate high-risk events resulted in less risk to police and the community."
In the absence of general arming, Cahill said the association was ready to give the new Tactical Response Model a go.
"It's a big ask, but all indications are that Police and the Government are serious about a viable alternative between the status quo and an armed police service."
Today, despite two terrorist attacks, the murder of Constable Matthew Hunt, and the real or perceived surge in meth-fuelled gang violence, there is not enough political support for routine arming.
If not now, maybe never.