Parliament at half strength can be akin to watching the Australian Open without the crowd.
Those who watched the Nick Kyrgios–Dominic Thiem match in the Australian Open, the last full game with an audience before Melbourne went into lockdown, will know what that means.
Each party had half its usual numbers, spaced around the debating chamber.
The seating arrangements were apparently confusing. National MP Gerry Brownlee was one of the first to enter. He wandered around like Goldilocks, inspecting a seating plan and looking for a seat that was just right.
Both Maori Party co-leaders turned up, only to realise they only had one seat so Rawiri Waititi left again.
There were no members of the public. Nobody cared who was wearing neckties, and all but one question related to Covid-19.
National had given up flogging the dead horse as to why New Zealand was not 'front of the queue' for vaccines, and whether Australia was faring better.
Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the first batch of vaccines had arrived. There were 60,000 of them, arriving at pretty much the same time as Australia's.
Ardern graciously resisted also pointing out that New Zealand got more than Australia on a per capita basis.
So the word 'vaccine' did not pass National's lips at all. When Labour put up a 'patsy' question on the vaccines rollout, National MPs said not a word.
National was clearly wary of attracting the same public backlash it suffered in the past when criticising Government moves on lockdowns.
So this time, Covid-19 response spokesman Chris Bishop started the day by praising the Government's wisdom in calling a short lockdown while it assessed matters.
Bishop then restricted his question lines to saliva testing, whether the measures for border workers and airline crew were robust enough, and why luggage handlers were considered at risk of infection, but someone laundering napkins and uniforms from planes was not.
The answer to the latter was that officials were now assessing whether the latter needed to change.
Leader Judith Collins skipped near the elephant in the room - the Auckland lockdown - but only to question when Ardern had known of the new cases, and whether the organisers of large events in Auckland on that day had been told early enough.
Collins had attended Big Gay Out – an event Ardern pulled out of to return to Wellington on the day the new cases were confirmed.
This time round, National left it to Act leader David Seymour to do the heavy hitting in critiquing the Government's response. He went for and got a debate on the lockdown, and used his speech to hammer home the cost of lockdowns to businesses and workers.
He described the Government as being "high on self-congratulation" and "triumphal".
"Instead of continuous improvement, we have sat still, a sitting duck, praying for luck while the Government congratulated itself for months on end."
He even went for the sacred cow, having a dig at director general of health Ashley Bloomfield – describing him as "a very charismatic leader" but saying the Ministry of Health was a 'policy shop' ill-equipped to organise the response.
"Do a little dance!" he suggested to Hipkins when Hipkins denied the Government was self-congratulatory – a reference to Ardern's statement that she had done a little dance when New Zealand was Covid-19 free in June.
All Hipkins needed to do in response was to point out the Covid-19 impact on New Zealand compared to other countries.
Meanwhile, Simon Bridges sat in the middle row enjoying the ambience.
Since he copped the backlash for asking the tough questions back in March, Bridges has taken some quiet satisfaction re-tweeting people who pointed out, months later, that he was right all along.
This time around, the only question Bridges faced all day was why he was tweeting about corned beef and peas. He was defending the writings of his buddy Paul Goldsmith, whose biography of Don Brash had revealed Brash once ate corned beef and peas.