Winner: David Cunliffe
The half-hour format meant that it felt like it was over before it had even begun. A civilised affair summed up by a handshake between the two leaders at the conclusion.
The debate revealed how far Cunliffe has come in the past four weeks. He was confident, authoritative and and had made sure he had a grasp of the detail.
But he should have skewered Key on the latter's changing story on the GCSB and mass surveillance.
But this was a debate in which the priority was not to make mistakes. It was really too close to call. If there had to be a winner it was Cunliffe - but only very narrowly.
Winner: A draw
Roll on Saturday when John Key and David Cunliffe will finally find out which hand they've been dealt to try and form a Government.
It was obvious both leaders were developing a bad case of candidates' regret. They have thrown their all at the election campaign. But they are clearly both fighting a sore point that Dirty Politics, Kim Dotcom et al have sucked the oxygen from their campaigns.
Cunliffe's talk to the hand style was lightly bumptious. It was Mike Hosking's job after all to tell Key when to be quiet, But it was a neat bit of subliminal messaging with the unstated message 'You've been prime minister for six years, now give me a go', not lost on viewers.
Key stayed on message. There was no wow factor. He wasn't going to rock the boat. He was stability incarnate.
Neither man would have changed the minds of swinging voters tonight.
Winner: John Key
It was less a debate than a scrappy contest to see which leader could cram the most campaign themes into a commercial half hour.
David Cunliffe disrupted the first half and calmed down for the second. "It's my turn John," has worn a bit thin NOW, David.
Cunliffe was right about one thing: the election is on a knife-edge and he could potentially put together a Government based on tonight's TV3 poll.
But John Key was right about one thing: Labour would need Internet Mana's support - also known simply as "Dotcom" to Key. Key's objective was to link Labour to Dotcom. It didn't entirely work. Cunliffe lamented the fact too much time this campaign had been spent on him.
A most dissatisfying format but Key's natural communication skills won it for him over Cunliffe. It's our turn now.
Winner: Winston Peters
Such a lot to chew and half an hour to do it. This was the fast-food debate, with Hosking and guests hovering around a giant white dinner plate.
On the menu: the Nats and their "ragtag rightwing weirdos" were a "basket of fish", said Cunliffe. No, we're a delicious steak, said Key; you're a lambchop. The Greens at home choked on their tofu.
Before rib-eyes were the five-eyes, but Key survived the post-Snowden grilling. Cunliffe bettered Key on the first 100 days, with the PM heavy on "continuing". Key squirmed a bit on succession questions, too.
But the real winner was Winston Peters, who sat at an invisible stool sipping the good stuff, while both men praised him to the skies, like starving waiters desperate for a tip.
• Fourth leaders debate: As it happened