The Kevin Rudd camp expects Julia Gillard to make one stuff-up a fortnight.
That blunt calculation comes from the Foreign Minister's principal lieutenant.
This assessment has been talked about for months, not just the recent ''own goals'' by the Prime Minister. But it was certainly the topic of chatter in the corridors of Parliament House after the PM's appearance on the ABC's Four Corners program.
The impact of her appearance cannot be underestimated, because of both the timing and the content.
She went on the program, apparently believing it would be solely about Labor's achievements. When the questioning was all about her role in knifing Rudd, her non-answers left her looking evasive and shifty.
The timing was truly awful for Gillard because in the previous week in Parliament she had been confident and forceful and the leadership speculation had died away.
The ABC appearance played directly into the hands of the Rudd camp and sparked another feverish burst of chatter.
Voters do not have to excogitate on this for long to conclude that the constant speculation is drowning out the Government's achievements. They could not find a better example of this malady than Gillard's big win on private health insurance.
It had been knocked back in the Senate before the Greens assumed the balance of power. Their support was confirmed when Gillard brought forward money for dental programs.
In the House of Representatives, Gillard is now more confident of success after installing Peter Slipper in the Speaker's chair.
She doesn't care about his obsession with restoring dignity and pomp to the position because she has studied his no-nonsense performance in the Main Committee.
With the aid of two cross benchers and the Greens' Adam Bandt, the rebate legislation sailed through the Reps and will be rubber stamped in the upper house.
The lengthening record of successful reforms contradicts Tony Abbott's mantra that this so-called dysfunctional government is paralysed. In fact, the legislation is going through but Labor is not receiving any kudos.
Next week the long-awaited Gonski review of school funding will be publicly released. This is a very significant body of work and will pave the way for the biggest change to the funding of schools since the Whitlam era. How much of this seminal study will translate into good news for the Government?
This highlights the current situation - the Government can get legislation through, but it can't govern like this, amid internal division and chaos.
That's the long and short of it.
If you think we in the media are jumping at shadows about leadership, you are absolutely correct.
The reason for that is the same one making caucus jumpy - the aftermath of the sudden knife job on Rudd in 2010. It stunned caucus, although some MPs had seen private polling.
Labor MPs and press gallery journalists don't want to be taken by surprise again, hence the over-reaction all round as Parliament resumed two weeks ago.
But this week there was fuel added to the furnace with many questions raised about why Gillard agreed to do Four Corners. Her supporters say she was damned if she did, damned if she didn't front up.
But the key is that it allowed the Opposition to launch another all-out attack on her credibility.
As new details emerge about exactly what Gillard knew, and when, it is overlooked that Labor MPs toppled Rudd due to his failures on the carbon tax and the mining tax, and indecision about calling the Opposition's bluff with a double dissolution election.
Gillard gets no credit for finding a compromise on the mining tax and going ahead with the carbon tax (yes, by breaking another promise).
However her support in caucus has fallen, according to unofficial number counters who estimate she has a tight grip on at least one third, another one third are undecided, with the rest said to be favouring the back-to-the-future option.
Rudd's office dismisses an ABC report that the Foreign Minister told journalists that he had a two-step strategy - to launch a challenge knowing it would most likely be unsuccessful, then retire to the backbench to agitate for another, like Keating. Rudd's office also denies he is campaigning by having cups of tea with journalists. The aforementioned Rudd spear carrier insists the two-step is not the preferred strategy. ''It's not planned to happen that way, but it might.''
The feverish speculation over the past week, post Four Corners, has MPs wondering if Rudd will move sooner rather than later. For instance, before the Queensland election on March 24. That would be bizarre because the Rudd camp has privately already set out a scenario where Gillard shares blame for the expected Labor wipe-out.
And it defies the strategy of relying on Gillard making mistakes, to produce a big enough mood shift in caucus that MPs would admit they were (somehow) wrong to dump Rudd, and would move to re-embrace the leader they previously described as an annoying micro-manager.
The only clear factor here is that this is shaping up as an unmitigated disaster for the Labor brand.
Gillard's credibility is on the line on several fronts - the leadership coup, the Australia Day fiasco and Craig Thomson.
The parliamentary week ended with an Opposition attempt at a censure motion, delivered with passion by Chris Pyne, about what he claims is a culture of evasion and incompetence by the PM. Notably Tony Abbott again stood aside, lest he be seen as Captain Negative, again.
The Opposition is now descending in the type of savage and personal attack that is reserved for a vulnerable leader. And she is hitting back, calling for those opposite to get out of the gutter. On Thursday she accused ''smear merchants'' within the Coalition of running a deliberate campaign against her.
The leadership speculation may subside again, with Parliament in recess for a week, but you can bet the Rudd camp is on alert for another stumble.
And calls will increase for a ballot to settle the matter. It would be a very risky exercise for Gillard to bring it on unless her number crunchers can deliver a solid majority.
Limping out of Canberra, one dejected Labor MP said, with understatement: ''This is a very difficult situation.'' The Gillard supporter said going back to Rudd would expose Labor as a ''monkey circus''.
Another backbencher likened the dampening effect of leadership speculation to playing with a beach ball. ''Every time you push it under [the water], it just bounces back up, not matter what you do.''
His colleagues know how this feels.
Ross Peake is Political Editor