With a bravura post-partum reboot, as of today our "proper" Prime Minister is back in the driver's seat.
Deputy driver Winston made a reasonable fist of things during his stint at the wheel, but - as in real, long-distance motor races - there's always a nagging doubt that the relief driver will end up in the hay bales. There's a reason why the No 2 driver is No 2 and not No 1.
Any relish Winston's had at, once again, temporarily playing PM was always going to be tempered by its bitter-sweet stop-gap nature.
But both the press and public seemed to actually enjoy the six-week change of face. Perhaps Winston even did as well - although sometimes it's hard to tell.
There's an ornery streak in him whereby the trademark grin is only allowed out once he's managed to crunch a few sets of reporters' toes just for the hell of it.
Vocally, he's not quite as adept as his northern compatriot, the Oracle of Awanui and billion-dollar bon vivant, Shane Jones, whose colourful turns of phrase sometimes positively somersault with rich allegory or figurative florescence.
Winston is also certainly capable of the odd bon mot and telling phrase, but sometimes his mouth struggles to keep up with the maelstrom of vocal possibilities whirling around under his immaculate coiffure, and he loses it on the chicane.
His famous Spoonerism where he sought to employ - in making some point or other - the old American saying "as American as motherhood and apple pie", is now the stuff of legend.
Through Winston's oral filter, it came out as "applehood and mother pie". But he missed a trick by not immediately adopting it as New Zealand First's snappy new party slogan.
Like the old political pugilist Richard Prebble, Mr Peters' competing thoughts periodically jam his gears, and his coherency loses traction.
In an interview a week or two ago on Radio NZ's Morning Report, Guyon Espiner incurred Winston's displeasure by pursuing a particular point. Not to over-do the motoring metaphors, it was enough to pop a gudgeon on one of Winston's big-ends, and copped a full minute of mangled syntax and incomprehensible riposte.
Of course, the press - fully aware of Winston's occasional blow-outs - turned the weekly prime ministerial press conference into a contemporary version of bear-baiting, competing as to how much speed wobble and side-drift they can induce in the short time available.
However, Winston didn't get to be acting prime minister by being a total dummy, so he was quite aware of what the press pack were up to, thinly disguising their arch intentions to the point of gossamer transparency under a mien of genuine journalistic enquiry.
He indulgently batted away the petty lances of their picador-like forays, but sooner or later his natural and endearing belligerence couldn't resist hauling off a big swipe of bear mitt at the pesky curs nipping his flanks.
Any previous faux cordiality immediately went out the window, and sparks would fly. Both Winston and the press gang would have been disappointed if it were otherwise.
Winston even managed to get himself sacked from the PM's regular spot on early morning TV. But the big question is, why have recent PMs even bothered with these time-consuming junky celebrity-culture interviews and talk-back schedules in the first place.
I'd much rather they had a bit of a lie-in, then used their energies to deliver the manifesto on which they actually got elected. Time enough for progress reports later.
Should Winston read the above, he'd probably just re-run his 2002 comment on media commentators, labelling them as "smart alec, arrogant, quiche-eating, chardonnay-drinking, pinky finger-pointing snobby fart blossoms."
But if he did, such calumny! Give me sav blanc any day.