Leading Auckland political lights are weighing their chances of toppling Len Brown at the next mayoral election before the city descends into being an international laughing stock.
Brown's narrow budget "win" this week was a farce. His budget squeaked in by 10 votes to 9 votes against a background where city ratepayers face average hikes of nearly 10 per cent in the coming year; the council's cost structures are under enormous pressure from rising immigration and Brown cannot shame Government into allowing Auckland Council to introduce user pays to help take the pressure off transport funding.
And the Auditor-General issued strong warnings about the danger to Auckland Council's funding lines if the Budget wasn't passed.
The mayor was elected to unite the city but Brown can't even unite his own council.
The centre-right faction has exploited Brown's loss of political legitimacy. His personal foibles played a part in this.
But that's not the only factor at play.
If the mayor was a tough cookie - the kind of person who rigorously challenged spending and jettisoned attempts to expand Auckland's governance into all sorts of fatuous nooks and crannies - it would be a different matter.
But awarding semi-executive powers to a politician who cannot create strong constituencies at local and central government levels has turned out to be a disaster.
So too, the fatal conceit of electing a mayor on the basis of his promises to build big ticket transport projects.
Then watch the fallout when the major funder - the Government - decided it had other priorities.
It would be unfair to level all the blame on Brown for the slowly unfolding disaster that is Auckland.
There was lots of backslapping on social media yesterday among city councillors with the "antis" being designated by mates as the "Noble Nine" for trying to avert an average 9.9 per cent rates increase.
Conversely - those who got behind Brown and voted in the new Budget hikes were the "Terrible Ten".
The truth is more complex.
John Key, Bill English, Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges all know Brown is a lame duck mayor.
But they have to make sure they are not seen by Aucklanders as playing political spoilsports. Government has taken its own eye off the ball during snowballing immigration, a developing housing bubble and major congestion in the city.
Cabinet ministers are trying to come to terms with the rapid development of the Auckland "city state" but they also have to balance the interests of New Zealand.
In the current environment it would make sense to have central and local government working together.
The scuttlebutt out of Wellington is that National MP Maurice Williamson is again being touted as a potential candidate for the next mayoral election.
Williamson appears to have been casting about for a new role.
Key has not brought him back into a ministerial position.
Unlike Judith Collins - who was cynically hung out to dry by National insiders at the 2014 election as they sought to put an end to the Dirty Politics distraction - Williamson does not have the same raw political talent.
Increasingly there is also talk of a coalition of like-minded politicians to get Auckland moving.
Under this scenario, Labour MP Phil Goff is being touted as a mayoral candidate with the right-of-centre faction being led by Orakei Local Board chairwoman Desley Simpson.
Goff - who has been gallivanting in Rome this week with close friends former Labour political colleague Darren Hughes, Australian Ambassador Mike Rann (also a Kiwi) and Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers - has been part of the Auckland political scene for decades.
He is supposedly cut from Labour's cloth.
But Goff is from the blue jeans brigade that made up the "Vietnam era" generation of politicians. The university lecturers, lawyers, and urban professionals who joined Labour in the 1970s and early 1980s with a clear aim to overthrow the spendthrift prime minister Sir Robert Muldoon, liberalise the New Zealand economy and get the nation focused on "paying its way".
The drum is that Goff won't make any pre-election deals. But there will be pressure on him to change his mind.
Simpson, who married her long-time partner National Party president Peter Goodfellow last year, has long been seen as a potential leadership candidate herself.
But despite her dazzling personality, her strong ties with "monied" Auckland count against her in some quarters.
What is clear is that the grand amalgamation of Auckland into one super city has come under enormous stress.
Much of it is self-inflicted by the very politicians Aucklanders voted in to lead.