When social conservative Alistair Coe was elected Opposition Leader after their defeat in the 2016 election, many thought the Canberra Liberals and their right-wing base had shot their chances of winning the 2020 election.
Leadership murmurs among a minority of MLAs have been bubbling at the surface since then, but to many people's surprise they have managed to present an impressively united public front for three years.
It inevitably came to a head this week in a slightly undercooked coup attempt by four MLAs that left a few of them with their tails between their legs. Elizabeth Lee has been touted as the moderate hope since her election in 2016, and the rebel group of MLAs thought they'd be much better placed with her as leader next year. An electorally palatable alternative to conservative Coe.
Giulia Jones - not part of the so-called "rebel alliance" - was touted as a deputy, presumably in an attempt to appease the conservatives. The Liberals went to ground on Monday, screening all calls, and only Deputy Opposition Leader Nicole Lawder was left to front reporters.
Ms Lawder, who is among the most progressive of the Canberra Liberals, gave a relatively honest appraisal of the situation. But she maintained the party room had come out of the public tiff more united than ever.
The fact Ms Lawder was not part of the rebel group, but one of her conservative colleagues was, shows the split was not as simple as moderates versus conservatives. It would be wrong to look for parallels with the most recent Liberal leadership coup in Canberra, which saw Malcolm Turnbull dumped as prime minister last August.
The plotters in the Assembly don't detest Coe - they're not willing to blow up the party, and risk losing an election, just to unseat a leader they don't like. Quite the opposite - the gang of four are motivated by a desperation to win. The prospect of another term in opposition has made them anxious and irritable.
The gang of four are motivated by a desperation to win. The prospect of another term in opposition has made them an anxious and irritable.
Meanwhile, Labor watched gleefully on - but not too gleefully. They are far more apprehensive at the thought of facing Lee as leader. Coe's conservatism, meanwhile, is seen as key to Labor's winning next year's election. So, aside from a few jabs during question time on his status as the "current" leader of the opposition, their goading was muted.
They are relying on their belief that even people dissatisfied with the government over a range of issues, like health, buses and perceptions of fatigue, could not bring themselves to vote for a Liberal Party led by conservative Coe.
But that attitude perhaps overestimates the role ideology will play in the election, taking into account where it will likely be won and lost. A redistribution of the Woden seat Murrumbidgee has favoured the Liberals, as has the impending retirement of Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur. The Liberals have a real shot of taking that seat, absent a star candidate from the Greens.
That leaves the Gungahlin seat of Yerrabi, with the resignation of popular Labor MLA Meegan Fitzharris giving the Liberals hope they can snatch an election-winning seat.
Some would say voting on social issues in a local election is a luxury, and Labor is relying on Canberrans outside the inner-north valuing ideology over services. Still, Coe would be wise to at least neutralise social issues.
While the attempted coup was amateurish at best and the insurgents are insisting the game is over, history would suggest otherwise. In the group's favour is the observation they are all among the best performers electorally - putting aside Coe.
Leadership coups rarely succeed on the first try, but Coe claims he's glad it has all been aired and says he feels he's in a stronger position than ever. But what isn't explained is why these disaffected MLAs suddenly decided to let it all go. And when and if it will all come to a head again.