It seemed that restarting the election campaign would be like lighting a fire with damp matches.
While Jacinda Ardern did the fairest thing in postponing the election by a month after Auckland headed into a second Covid lockdown, the delay has emphasised the advantage she has against Judith Collins.
It gave Ardern another chance to show how good she is in a crisis. It also gave her a chance to share the load and for Health Minister Chris Hipkins to perform like the cabinet all-star he has become.
But something unusual happened this week to National that suggests it has ignited a spark.
Judith Collins managed to push Covid-19 off the top of the television bulletins on Thursday with a story that didn't involve leaking, scandal, deception, incompetence, misrepresentation - accusations thereof by or against her.
It was an old-fashioned policy story.
The policy is essentially like a health voucher system for expectant parents, allowing them to redeem up to $3000 worth of services including from health professionals, parental educators, or even for extended ECE hours for older kids to allow parents more time with the baby.
It would use its social investment approach to identify mothers with higher needs who could have up to $6000 of services.
We saw Collins laughing and smiling in something other than a sly or wry way.
It showed that perhaps National is going to use a little imagination to try to set the campaign alight.
Most other major policy National has announced in recent weeks has been Covid-related in terms of business relief and border management.
It agrees with the Government on the major Covid issues – going into lockdown, financial assistance for business, 14 days isolation for arrivals - and while there have been plenty of mistakes made, it does not reach the threshold for incompetence.
National might have gone into lockdown quicker, it might have stayed in it shorter, it may have gone into managed isolation faster, it may have started testing sooner.
But the differences in Covid response are just not substantial enough to be a defining election issue. Differences are likely to emerge over tax policy and law and order. But it is still likely to be the Covid election.
The obvious risk for National's campaign is that nothing else major goes wrong for the Government in the Covid-19 response in the next six weeks.
The one area on which National could make a serious inroad is over border failures and particularly the failure of Labour ministers to acknowledge the fact that Auckland was in all probability forced back into lockdown because of it.
Instead, ministers have said the current outbreak was highly unlikely to have originated in a managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility.
It can claim that, safe in the knowledge that only 24 per cent of positive cases from MIQ facilities had samples strong enough to establish genomic sequencing.
Of course the border is wider than just MIQ facilities but in the event of some super-sleuthing from ESR establishing the source of the outbreak at the border, the Government's assurances will be seriously weaponised.
Labour has no need to roll out Covid-19 policies because, as promised by Ardern, on that score she will just continue to govern.
The decision by her deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, to join the Opposition chorus of criticism from within Government is sowing confusion.
He went a step further this week from his customary sledging of the Greens to say that the Covid response had been led by Labour and they had let their guard down. As Peters retells, if they has listened to New Zealand First's calls to bring in the Army sooner, to bring in Heather Simpson sooner to get things done and get people wearing masks sooner, things would be a lot better.
His current approach is not getting much traction because, like National, the issues about which he complains are hardly defining.
Peters is back on his campaign bus selling himself again as an insurance policy, but the best chance he has of setting his campaign alight is if the Serious Fraud Office decides there is no case to answer against the New Zealand First Foundation.
Peters told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking yesterday that he held back his criticism until now because "you don't go out there and tell the whole country what's wrong with your team straight away – your hope is the next time the team gets to play a better game".
That is about the closest Peters has come to suggesting the best outcome would be a second-term Coalition Government, which would clearly make more sense as a campaign tool than bleating about past battles around the cabinet table.
A second term Coalition with New Zealand First would be Labour's third preference, after governing alone, first, and governing with the Greens, second.
But the Greens have not only dampened their matches, they are in danger of dropping the whole box into the river.
The fiasco over an $11.7 million grant for the elite Green School poses a threat to the Green Party on two counts - potential disunity within the Greens and its potential to give Labour supporters a reason not to help rescue the Greens if they stay stubbornly close to 5 per cent.
Disunity is the killer, as Metiria Turei found out. It wasn't the news media hounding her out, or the historic lies she told to get a DPB; it was her lack of remorse or contrition that led to the disunity within her own caucus which led to her resignation. She could have avoided resignation.
There is no need for James Shaw to consider it either. He has shown Turei how a political blunder should be handled, with humility rather than finding others to blame.
Shaw will be damaged, not least for the horse-trading his office engaged in to get approval for funding from Labour and NZ First ministers, a practice supposedly anathema to the pure-hearted Greens.
It cannot help but have dampened the enthusiasm of the party's activist base as it embarks on a campaign for survival.