The first salvos have been fired in the truncated election campaign proper, but so far no one has scored a decisive hit. The televised debate between John Key and Phil Goff was, for me, a waste of an hour and a half of my time.
All it did was prove once again that politics is a petty and grubby business and that even its most senior practitioners can behave like obstreperous schoolyard bullies.
Labour leader Goff seemed to confuse the debate with question time in the House, a cause for revulsion to anyone who has ever watched it from the gallery or on television.
I suppose it's too much to expect politicians to place principles before personalities, but some of that would have been helpful on Monday night.
Prime Minister Key did his best to stay on message (whatever that message is) but his opposite number was having none of that. His constant interjections and personal slights made the whole show a rather unpalatable fiasco.
Most New Zealanders, with our innate sense of fairness, will have cringed at Mr Goff's calling Mr Key a liar - to his face but in the presence of hundreds of thousands of viewers.
This was downright dirty politics. "Liar" is a word forbidden in Parliament - you can be tossed out of the House for using it - and Mr Goff's use of it on television is inexcusable.
If every politician - National and Labour - who gave an undertaking before an election, then changed his or her mind, could be called a liar, their number would be legion indeed.
To the bafflement of at least some political commentators, Mr Key responded with the word "dynamic", yet there is no better word to describe the circumstances that led him to resile from a pledge not to raise GST.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary gives as its first definition of dynamic "a process or system characterised by constant change or activity". Surely that sums up perfectly the fiscal situation National found itself in just after the last election as the world's economies turned to custard.
What the leaders' debate did prove, once again, is that television is not the platform for reasoned debate, which it presents as news but is what I call "infotainment". Monday's debacle was horribly short of information and heavy on entertainment - and, of course, advertising.
As a moderator Guyon Espiner makes a reasonably competent political reporter. Could not TVNZ have found someone with more mana and authority - a Paul Holmes, a John Campbell, a Paul Henry, or even Mark Sainsbury, who was relegated to a back room for the debate?
But all that aside, the huge disappointment of the whole affair is that we know very little more about the respective parties' "vision" for this country's future than we did before.
While all we got was soundbites, what we should have been given is a concise yet detailed explanation of what each party proposes to do to lift this country out of the doldrums and to provide a sound platform on which to build a prosperous future in which all of us can partake.
We want to hear a master plan, not the series of knee-jerk ideas we've had so far. And we want it in detail, complete with the best possible estimates of what it will cost and how we will all benefit.
And we are not going to get that if the party leaders and their senior colleagues keep sniping at one another and rambling on about what are essentially trivialities.
It's all very well for Mr Key to aver that Labour's election pledges will cost $17 billion. Where are the figures?
It's all very well for Mr Goff to claim 100,000 Kiwis have deserted the nest in the past three years. But what of the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands who deserted these shores over the nine years of the Labour Party's rule?
It's all very well for Mr Key to rabbit on about the vital importance of better education and training. But how is this to be achieved in the face of a seriously screwed up education system and the recalcitrance of the reactionary teachers' unions?
It is all very well for Mr Goff to accuse the Government of propping up an unpopular regime in Afghanistan with our SAS troops (which we all know anyway). But where is any acknowledgment that we are doing so because we must meet our obligations to the international community, the Unites States in particular?
This superficiality must stop. There is little more than three weeks until election day.
We need to know, and sooner rather than later, what it is exactly that National and Labour have to offer our future. Without that, we might as well vote for the seemingly aimless status quo.