It is difficult to put a finger on it, but something does not feel quite right about Labour's approach to being in Opposition.
Watching the party's MPs in Parliament this week - the first occasion the House has sat this year - was a bit like being at the movies and the projectionist getting the reels in the wrong order. The plot seemed to have skipped several scenes and got ahead of where it should have been.
Something is missing. That "something" is a discernible and genuine catharsis followed by rejuvenation which normally occurs when crushing defeat ends a long spell in power.
Ruling parties dumped on the Opposition benches usually spend some time pondering what went wrong and whether they need to redraw the map and reset the compass as a consequence.
But Labour seems bereft of self-doubt. It is as if last November's election result was some inexplicable mix-up which placed Labour on the wrong side of the chamber; a horrible mistake which will be rectified when everyone comes to their senses.
In case they don't, Labour has begun the year at such velocity it is as if an election is just around the corner which it has every expectation of winning as of right.
There is nothing wrong with the Opposition functioning at full throttle. An effective Opposition can hold the Government to account. With its experience and talent, Labour will be good at that fundamental role - once it accepts it is in Opposition.
Labour is exhibiting a self-righteousness which grates when placed against the backdrop of its rejection by voters.
Some longer-serving MPs exude a "we-know-best" smugness which comes from long tenure of the Beehive's ministerial suites.
It is all rather topsy-turvy. You have a Government which won a landslide victory in MMP terms still feeling its way and an Opposition which suffered a thumping defeat acting as if it is still running
No one is suggesting Labour spend the next three years slumped in the Slough of Despond. However, a little humility and acknowledgment of failings would not go amiss.
In the election, Labour got a walloping from National in provincial New Zealand, and National and the Greens vacuumed up Labour votes in its inner-city strongholds.
Voters expect a period of visible penance on Labour's part after such a thrashing. Otherwise, they cannot be sure the party has mended its ways.
That is not something that can be achieved overnight. Voters have to see a defeated party making the transition to a new era. Often that transition is messy. Often it has to be to demonstrate real change.
Phil Goff may have been the only viable candidate for the job of leader after Helen Clark's resignation - at least for the time being. But the smooth change of leadership was too seamless to display any sense of transition.
As it is, by installing Goff and Annette King as leader and deputy, Labour is failing to undertake the generational shift which Key's leadership has done for National.
National dismisses Goff, believing he does not have the X factor needed to wow the electorate.
We have yet to be presented with any picture of how a Goff-led Labour Party will be different from Clark's model - if at all.
Meanwhile, Key keeps eating into Labour territory by demonstrating his centrist credentials, for example, by increasing the minimum wage and offering to fly a Maori flag on public buildings next Waitangi Day.
Under his strategy of isolating Labour, Key will meet the Greens next week. The discussions will surely go beyond canvassing pieces of Government legislation the Greens might be able to support.
Key has been deliberately conciliatory towards that party, offering to get the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to examine the SIS's monitoring of Keith Locke.
In marked contrast to Key's reaching out across political divides, Labour cannot decide whether to destroy the Maori Party or work with it.
Meanwhile, Labour's new leadership makes noises about "reconnecting" with voters, but so far seems to be paying only lip-service to the notion.
True, too much introspection can lead to a party shooting off in a direction which is contrary to its natural and long-established positioning on the political spectrum.
It can take years to find the route back when this happens.
It is understandable Labour should wish to avoid taking such a journey. Moreover, it is comfortable with its positioning on the political spectrum.
Despite the pressures of Government, Labour never strayed far from its core ideology while in office. There may have been expedience and self-serving behaviour when it came to political management - most visibly in the writing of the Electoral Finance Act, the tolerance shown to Winston Peters and the initially lenient treatment of Taito Philip Field.
But Labour also bought back the railways into state ownership and stuck to its social policy knitting when it came to helping lower to middle income families with such things as cheaper doctors' fees and access to early childhood education.
Additionally, any wider review of party direction beyond last year's immediate post-election analysis would devour time that Goff probably feels he does not have to spare.
That is why he has kicked the year off in such a hurry. He has got one shot at becoming prime minister. If Labour does not win in 2011, he will be a goner.
Even so, questions need to be asked about much of Labour's current frenetic activity, most of which will come to nought. Every criticism of National's actions invites the "nine years of inaction" refrain straight back in its face.
Where Labour can make some yards is in declaring its stance on the Government's response to the deepening economic recession.
Labour is arguing it is too little too late. In doing so, Labour is putting some markers in the ground to be able to say "told you so" when the recession really bites.
Beyond that, Labour should bite its tongue.
But Labour cannot help itself. In its eagerness to score points, it only scored a succession of own goals this week ranging from state house numbers to the Kopu bridge.
In responding to National's infrastructure initiatives by claiming it had already announced the same when in Government or had been planning to do so, it simply allowed Bill English to point out that Labour had allocated no real money to pay for those projects.
The Kopu bridge is the prime example. Labour announced the go-ahead, but the go-ahead only went as far as another Transit New Zealand waiting list.
Now, the project is going to go ahead - a decision which might have a touch of the pork-barrel about it, but one which will be heartily welcomed by motorists.
National will reap the kudos. No one will be taking much stock of Labour's claim that it was the first to get things moving.
The early days of Opposition are always difficult and frustrating. Labour just has to accept that.
It does not mean having to wear sackcloth and ashes. But some monastic silence might occasionally be in order.