Leo Varadkar cast himself as a humble man who knows all about his Government’s failings.
But new-found humility wrapped in a political sales pitch is a complex commodity.
It must be stitched to perfection or else it will swiftly be torn apart.
Done well, though, and it can have an unsettling effect on those around you.
As Leo Varadkar admitted a plethora of failings, there were moments in the early part of this debate where Micheál Martin could only watch what was unfolding.
A solemn looking Fine Gael leader said people had expected more of his party and they had been let down at times.
There was deep sorrow expressed too over what what happening in the health service.
And one of the most articulate politicians in Leinster House even said that maybe he can’t express things as well as others, when it comes to displaying empathy.
It all came, of course, with the caveat that things are now changing and plans are working.
But if this is all not enough to convince the voters to give his party a resounding mandate on 8 February, then at a push Leo Varakdar would agree to a coalition with Fianna Fáil.
Micheál Martin did not bite on this one, saying only that it was a time for a change of Government.
The style he adopted throughout was in keeping with the more feisty exchanges often seen in the Dáil.
He told “Leo” – indeed he called him Leo all through the debate while he was referred to as Micheál Martin – that he was the one who had been very grown up in recent years.
There was a big shout also to a perspective Government partner when Mr Martin praised Brendan Howlin’s sage eyes, for spotting the pensions issue months ago.
The most awkward moment of the evening for the Taoiseach came when he was asked if he had ever taken illegal drugs. After some uncomfortable pauses, he said yes, but it was a long time ago.
It was the one moment in the debate that he looked entirely unprepared for.
When asked if they ever took illegal drugs. FF’s Micheál Martin said no while FG’s Leo Varadkar said yes, adding that it was a long time ago | https://t.co/WEnR8iRu3l pic.twitter.com/sqYEWkUgUH
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) January 22, 2020
But overall, this was a new approach from Leo Varadkar. Most of those natural tendencies to seek the last word were swapped for a warm humility. Crucially it allowed him set the tone for large swathes of the debate.
It might not have been perfect, but it prevented Micheál Martin from landing any decisive punch. Therefore, it’s a narrow points victory for Leo Varadkar.