Labour should have sensed something was up when Finance Minister Bill English turned up for the last question time of the parliamentary term in an uncharacteristically perky green tie.
Mr English, it seemed, had that sweet, sweet smell of looming utu in his nostrils.
There had been nine long years of trying to laugh off the nickname Mr 21 Per Cent, in memory of National's showing in the polls under his leadership in 2002. And now Labour was heading perilously, deliciously in a similar direction.
So Mr English had a plan, which was clearly very cheering for the habitually dour Finance Minister. When Labour's finance spokesman, David Cunliffe, stood and reeled off a series of grim unemployment, debt and GDP statistics, English suggested he needed to "cheer up a bit".
He finally revealed his plan: to maximise the chances of Labour's vote slumping, he needed to maximise Green's chances of taking more of Labour's vote. He did this by praising Green co-leader Russel Norman's "sensible and insightful" questioning on the economy, "a sharp contrast to other opposition parties".
The Greens looked at this blessing as though it was a dog turd on the footpath. They had a better plan in mind to boost their vote and that was finally to hold someone accountable for the mysterious disappearance of Happy Feet.
Gareth Hughes had conducted his own Commission of Inquiry into the Halting in Transmission from Happy Feet's Tracking Device and come out with a chief suspect: Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley.
The first question was innocuous enough, asking about fisheries management and bycatch.
Then came the clincher. "Is it possible the country's favourite emperor penguin, Happy Feet, was killed by a trawler?"
Fortuitously Mr Heatley had clearly already thought of this possibility himself and had gone to great lengths to find out.
He said his officials had two screens side by side - one showing Happy Feet's position and the other, the fishing trawlers in the area. The nearest trawler at the time Happy Feet stopped transmitting was 32km away.
He claimed he did not know what had happened to Happy Feet but had heard some theories, and he didn't like them: "I have heard it said that Happy Feet may very well have become a happy meal."
There was a gasp of horror.
"There's children here!" an aghast David Cunliffe said, peering up at the Public Gallery for signs of shock.
Mr Hughes was not satisfied. Trawlers had big nets and could move fast. But Mr Heatley had done some calculations and discovered the trawler would have had to move at near to the speed of light to catch Happy Feet. "That would have been a very fast fishing vessel indeed."
Mr Hughes was still not satisfied that a trawler was not responsible - the nets really were quite large. But Mr Heatley had one further arrow in his quiver - and it was a good one.
"The fact is that the closest vessel to Happy Feet when the transponder went off was the Tangaroa, which was the boat that released Happy Feet."
The MPs roared with appreciation and headed off to the hustings on feet that were of varying degrees of happiness.
For regardless of whether Mr English's plan worked or not, National and Labour were as far apart in the polls as Happy Feet and the Tangaroa were on the southern seas, and looking very much like they, too, would have to exceed the speed of light to catch up.