Four months ago, the ACT Liberal Party, under Zed Seselja, came closer than it ever had before to holding power in its own right.
The Liberals have dominated several coalition governments in the past, but had never before captured eight seats, nor seemed as united and disciplined in the course of their campaign.
On Monday the same party elects a new leader, with Seselja having chosen to leave the Assembly in pursuit of nomination as a Liberal Party candidate for the Senate. Reports on Sunday suggested that Alistair Coe will achieve the leadership, largely as the result of a deal made with Seselja, by which party members associated with Coe will support Seselja, as opposed to the incumbent Gary Humphries, in the Senate preselection, in exchange for the support of Liberals at Seselja's beck and call for a ticket with Coe at the top, with a former Liberal leader, Brendan Smyth, as deputy leader.
Until the deal became known, most had rated another Liberal, Jeremy Hanson, as the favourite, on ability, for the leadership, with Coe coming behind the second leading contender, Smyth.
It now appears that this has been, to a degree, misinformation, of a piece with the initial ambush of Humphries through a last-minute nomination for the Senate ticket, made after Seselja had his numbers organised, having lulled Humphries and his supporters into thinking he would not stand.
Politics is a hard game, but much more is involved in the manoeuvring than mere hurt feelings or dashed ambitions.
Seselja is a far more traditional and conservative Liberal than Humphries, and the triumph of his faction at both the national and local level of ACT Liberal politics removes any leading voice of liberal moderation from the Liberal side of politics.
Yet liberal moderation has usually been thought the approach most likely, in the ACT, to harvest votes for the Liberal Party, whether in federal or local elections.
All the more is the change significant because the conservatism of the faction is rather more organised and focused around the promotion of moral views - say, over abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage - than it is about economic ideas, the operation of free markets, or a limited role for the state.
The electorate has proven itself somewhat predisposed to Labor but well able to give the opposition a go if Labor has let the territory down and if the Liberals have shown themselves disciplined, and with attractive policies.
Kate Carnell and Humphries have, in the past, succeeded against Labor tides because they have not strongly challenged the local order. Down the track, a more conservative and ideological local Liberal Party may find it more, not less, difficult to reach past, perhaps even to hold, its present vote.
The candidate most likely to be disappointed with the fait accompli is Hanson, who has shown both ambition and ability, even if he has seemed to fail to click with Seselja. Smyth is a former federal member for Canberra, a former leader of the opposition in the Assembly, and has extensive experience, even if he has failed to articulate a clear message why members of the party should revert to him.
Coe has been an inveterate player of factional politics, particularly in the Young Liberals, and has been around long enough to have some experience, and long enough to acquire some demerits over his use of office entitlements.
But he does not have much of a public profile or following. He is, thus, relatively speaking, a cleanskin able to be fashioned and styled to suit changing circumstances, if already, by the manner of his success, recognised for some capacity to wield a knife.
It is, however, far from clear that he is yet in much of a position to build on Seselja's achievements at the next election, perhaps the more so because Seselja is seen as having reneged on promises to voters in Tuggeranong about his being in the business for the long haul.
The big problem, however, is not about liberalism or conservatism. Philosophy and ideology do matter, and influence the energies and enthusiasms of constituencies, but the big task at territory level is persuading voters that your team is better than the others.
It is about credible economic policies, sound and coherent plans and ideas for managing the territory's resources, and about creating confidence in the unity, discipline and calibre of the party's representatives.
The leader will be judged first and last by how he prepares, inspires, and organises his own team, and, from that position inspires the electorate.
If he has no great record to guarantee relief and acclamation, he can, perhaps, console himself with the thought that he has yet to acquire a truly rich set of personal enemies.