Something very familiar is happening in the soft-carpeted halls of Parliament House.
We have mounting, woeful poll numbers. And frontbenchers being cornered in interviews, forced to say what a great prime minister the Prime Minister is. Then there's the coded yet inflammatory messages from former leaders, reminding everyone that, you know, they're here if anyone needs them.
Are we really back here again?
If we have learned anything about Australian politics over the past decade it's that Australian politics does not learn.
This week we've had an enthusiastic sprinkling of leadership speculation thanks to the latest Newspoll. On Monday, the poll had a yawning gap between Labor and the Coalition, with the ALP out in front 54 to 46 per cent.
Even in isolation, this is not a peachy result for the government. But it is made worse by the fact that it is the 21st successive Newspoll where the Coalition is in the loser's seat. And it is made even worse again because it inches Malcolm Turnbull ever closer to 30 dud Newspolls in a row.
Just over two years ago, Turnbull walked out of question time and called a snap press conference. On the lush pastures of the Senate courtyard he announced he was challenging Tony Abbott for the Liberal leadership. About halfway through his 900-word statement, which also attacked "captain's calls" and "policy on the run", Turnbull reasoned Abbott's time was up because he had "lost 30 Newspolls in a row". Six words that now haunt Turnbull like the ghost of press conferences past.
"It is clear that the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott's leadership," he said.
Newspolls come around every fortnight, which means that based on the current trend, Turnbull is on track to hit 30 loser polls around the end of February, beginning of March next year (taking Christmas into account).
And with each poll, we can expect more of the festival we've had this week. This includes Abbott being quizzed about whether he'd try to lead the Liberal Party again. As he told Ray Hadley on Monday: "The only way an ex could ever come back would be by way of a draft and that's almost impossible to imagine."
It seems like he's playing things down here. But in Canberra, simply leaving the door open, even the tiniest bit, is akin to throwing a few more firecrackers on the barbie.
The speculation-fest also includes inevitable leadership questions to senior ministers, who sound like they are hiding something, whichever way they answer.
"Not one person in the party has raised with me any suggestion that there would be a change of leader," said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Tuesday, while trying valiantly to talk to the ABC about Australia's new spot on the United Nations' Human Rights Council.
However, while the 30 Newspolls loom, they are more arbitrary molehill than game-changing mountain. It's worth bearing in mind, there is nothing in the constitution that will force action if the "magic" number is reached.
While the marker guarantees awkwardness and distraction for the government over the next few months, it is not - in and of itself - going to bring it down. Rest assured, Turnbull is not going to dutifully hand back the keys to The Lodge and trundle back to the backbench if he replicates Abbott's milestone.
And there is no one in the party that will hold him to the milestone either. The strong view within the Liberal Party - even among those who are not Turnbull's biggest ideological fans - is that while ideally, he wouldn't have set up the Newspoll target, it's just one of those things.
As one MP said, "it will make for a few good headlines [but] it's more symbolism than anything else".
While the government would obviously prefer its primary vote to be stronger, another senior Liberal described the 30 poll line as something the Canberra bubble will obsess over and nothing more. Indeed, its hard to imagine people earnestly talking about the Newspoll tally in pubs, cafes and at school gates.
True, there is twitchiness about what might happen to a raft of seats - particularly in Western Australia and Queensland - at the next election, but this is not tied to a certain number of Newspolls.
Critically, there is no genuine challenger. People can keep putting forward Julie Bishop, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton's names, but there is nothing to suggest the Liberal Party would benefit from a change to any of these senior ministers.
And there is no desire to draft Abbott back. As one MP said in the wake of his "loopy" London climate change speech, Abbott (with all his various climate policy positions) has shown he has "no ideological compass". They also described him as an unwanted guest at a wedding, adding some in the party had already told him directly to "shut up".
The fact that Abbott's concerns about the emissions reductions component of Turnbull's new energy plan failed to get even a handful of backers in Tuesday's partyroom meeting also indicates he is not carrying the crowd with him.
Turnbull's 30 Newspolls line was naive. But it has since assumed way more importance than it deserves - perhaps because politics is a complex game and there is a tendency to latch on to things that are easy to understand.
But if people (the media included) continue to cling to the benchmark, it's guaranteed to take us to a stupid place.
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