Winston Peters' return to work this week after a long recuperation has reinforced two things.
No matter how infallible and invincible he likes to appear, he most certainly is not.
He is fighting fit in spirit but he does not appear to be fully recovered yet from the undisclosed ailment that kept him away for four weeks.
And he has to treat every month, week and day in politics as though his New Zealand First's party's survival depended on it, because it does.
Peters has still not managed to build a party that would confidently survive without him, although Shane Jones remains the only potential successor who could come within cooee of getting there.
Monday marks two years since the last election, which gave New Zealand First the balance of power.
It has one more year to enhance its chances of survival and it seems likely to do that by targeting three groups: drawing farmer support away from National, blue collar and male support away from Labour and maintaining a reasonable level of the seniors' vote from the baby boomers.
Peters has returned with a sharper focus on his party's survival and growth.
Labour is being done no favours in Peters' mission simply because it is New Zealand First's coalition partner. That much was clear this week.
Audrey Young: Winston Peters becomes a voice of sanity
Labour sex assault: Winston Peters backs investigator over complainant
Ihumātao: Govt unmoved by Māori King's urging of Fletcher deal
It has been glaringly obvious from Peters' hospital bed that in the playing out of the Labour sex assault scandal in recent weeks, no one in Labour or National had been giving a voice to those who regard a "victim-led approach" as anathema to natural justice.
That is a constituency of mainly men who object to the notion that a complainant must always be believed and that an accused is presumed guilty unless proven to be innocent. That is how they interpret a victim-led approach.
It is a generational divide as much as it is a gender divide. And Peters is speaking for them.
There have been many Labour MPs who have quietly applauded Peters piling into the issue this week, even though it can be seen as undue interference in another party's business.
There are probably even more people in National's wider support base whose views have not been reflected by deputy leader Paula Bennett, a confidant of the complainants, and who will also have been applauding Peters this week.
For the seniors, Peters has already signalled a SuperGold card enhancement next week while he is Acting Prime Minister.
He has a more complex relationship with the rural sector.
Despite Jones' success in branding himself and New Zealand First as a champion of the provinces, as he dispenses $3 billion in the Provincial Growth Fund, it has been countered by an unco-ordinated onslaught of proposals since April.
There is growing disquiet over the plans, first to get agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme; set methane reduction targets in the Zero Carbon Bill; and to improve freshwater standard five years faster than before and to a higher standard.
The sense of anxiety has been exacerbated by hints from the Australian banks to slow down rural lending if greater capital requirement are imposed by the Reserve Bank.
National has not had to try hard to paint New Zealand First as part of the problem, not the solution. After all the proposals have come from the Coalition Government.
But blaming New Zealand First may be a harder position to maintain as each of the issues is settled - the first of which may come as early as next week when Peters is still acting Prime Minister.
Announcements are expected soon on how and when agriculture will join the emissions trading scheme.
Under the terms of New Zealand First's coalition agreement with Labour, it would have to accept pollution charges on 5 per cent of agricultural emissions – and it could have been enacted this term.
The final outcome is likely to be less onerous – and more along the lines of the plan for a farm-based levy for methane and nitrous oxide emissions from 2025, proposed by the industry itself in the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment.
It was published as an alternative to the Government's Interim Climate Change Commission' plan for processors such as Fonterra to be charged from 2020, before farmers themselves were levied in 2025.
It remains to be seen whether the final outcome can be claimed as a victory for New Zealand First. But it certainly will not be able to be demonised for it.
The Zero Carbon Bill is more trouble for the Green Party than any other party and it has got itself into a pickle over it by its failure to count.
Having worked with National from the early development of the bill, Green Party co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw ditched the Nats at the behest of New Zealand First.
With New Zealand First now putting its foot down, National is again being sounded out for a compromise.
The bill proposes ridiculous targets to reduce biogenic methane by 24 to 47 per cent 2050 but it requires the support of either New Zealand First or National to get them through.
It may keep the near-term target to lower biogenic methane by 10 per cent on 2017 levels by 2030.
But Shaw will be forced to refine and lower the 2050 target to 24 per cent or, more likely, drop it altogether.
Including the 2050 target was a bizarre decision on so many levels, especially when there was a clear alternative that may have won bipartisan support from the outset - leaving the target to the Climate Change Commission.
If the 24 to 47 per cent target was put there to appease the Green Party's constituency, it was dumb because it will have raised false expectations in its members who will end up being more disappointed.
Getting David Parker to dilute his freshwater proposals will be harder. He is a more obstinate minister and Peters offered no criticism of them on The Country this week.
But New Zealand First farmer Mark Patterson has made it clear in Parliament that the party sees the plan as a consultation document only.
The party has shown before that it has no qualms about switching positions if it is deemed in the party's best interests and survival instincts are kicking in.