The biggest lie about Covid strategies all over the world is that all of them will somehow lead their countries "back to normal".
In times of crisis, "normal" exerts an almost gravitational pull on political attention - politics and politicians become manic, crawling over themselves promising a return to "normal".
Our elimination strategy offered a bifurcated normal: life inside the country was very much normal, whilst life connected to our border - for separated families, employers, and the footloose - was anything but.
It's tempting to assume that abandoning the strategy, acknowledging some community transmission of Covid-19, will lead to a better normal post-vaccinated life with the helpful addition of a normalised border regime.
Recent modelling suggests that in fact, life post-elimination will be anything but normal, with higher amounts of transmission and death.
Director-general of heath Ashley Bloomfield has acknowledged that with or without the elimination strategy, public health measures including masking, contract tracing and partially closed borders are likely to be with us for a while.
In other words, normal is never coming back.
Politics, on the other hand, has snapped back to something resembling normal.
From a near universal commitment to the elimination strategy. Act and National have pivoted right, urging liberalisation, the Greens and Te Pāti Māori have hewed left, arguing for elimination.
Labour was left in the middle, with a hastily cobbled together plan, neither fully committed to elimination, nor totally committed to its opposite: full liberalisation.
Having so successfully tied itself to the success of the elimination strategy, Labour is now trying to explain why its abandonment is both not a failure, and not its fault.
The first of these points is true, elimination kept people alive and gave the vaccine rollout a head start. The second point is more difficult.
At the start of the current outbreak, the Government was adamant elimination, defined in this case by getting down to zero cases (a definition supported by some, but described as eradication by others). On Monday, Jacinda Ardern admitted that was almost impossible.
"With Delta, the return to zero is incredibly difficult and our restrictions alone are not enough to achieve it quickly. In fact, for this outbreak, it's clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases," she said.
With Ardern relatively fortified on her left, copping little flak for the way her last two alert level decisions affect vulnerable communities who are likely to face infection and death, the major political contest is still between left and right, National and Act versus Labour and the Greens.
It's difficult to argue that any splintering of the focus on Covid, and the collapse of elimination, a Labour policy so popular that every other party picked it up, will hurt the Government.
But it's equally likely the National party is in such a dogged state it is in no position to capitalise on Labour's Covid troubles.
National is certainly on more comfortable ground. On Wednesday, as it was revealed that two senior gang members had been given essential workers status, Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins acknowledged in the plainest terms yet, that a number of the latest outbreak are gang members or affiliates - one of the only areas where National still tends to perform better than Labour.
Hipkins acknowledged a number of the latest cluster were not following Covid rules, saying that "some of the people involved have been more active than would be consistent with the alert levels in the areas they have been".
This puts the Government in a difficult moral universe - particularly in the context of the outrage often directed at Covid rule breakers. Cooperation with gangs is essential for bringing the outbreak under control - both in terms of vaccination and contact tracing - but it appears cooperation on the part of the gangs is half-hearted.
Bloomfield is fond of saying that the "virus is the problem, not the people", but in this context, tackling the virus will bring the Government into close cooperation with some pretty problematic people - some of whom are possibly responsible for extending lockdown by breaching its rules in the first place.
Any crisis makes strange bedfellows - but locked-up, rule-abiding Aucklanders will no doubt feel slightly frustrated at lockdown exemptions granted to help reach to rule-breakers.
The economy has also returned to a new form of normal, with the Reserve Bank hiking the official cash rate yesterday.
National's Andrew Bayly seized upon the moment to point to the spectre of inflation caused by excessive Government spending.
In this case, inflation appears to coming from virtually everywhere - supply chains, chaos overseas, and yes, Government stimulus here. National have so far struggled to fire on the economy, with low interest rates making it difficult to argue for less Government borrowing.
With rates now set to rise, putting pressure on heavily indebted households, Bayly is finally in a position to blame the squeeze on the Government's economic policy. Finally, the economic wind is titling ever so slightly in his direction.
It's a big test for the right. On recent polling, the left bloc is still the most trusted on Covid and the economy, but with structural factors shifting the debate in their direction, there's at least an outside chance of National clawing back some of the narrative.
That of course, would require the party to not implode in the next month. MPs appear to have cooled their enthusiasm for a coup before Christmas, but with Parliament currently abuzz with speculation MPs will soon be allowed to return from Auckland, all the political pieces are set for a leadership change if it's decided one is required.
The shift in political fortune is also a test for National. Its semi-regular implosions could almost be excused because of a run of bad luck; it has fewer excuses now the prevailing political wind has shifted ever so slightly back in its direction.