F1 answers critics in style
So the obituaries were premature - as they were always going to be. Two weeks after a soporific opening race of the season prompted newspaper headlines proclaiming the death of Formula 1, the world's best drivers put on a show to remember at the Australian Grand Prix.
Helped by a dollop of changeable weather, but also by the mixed tyre strategies prompted by the much-criticised decision to ban refuelling, Melbourne provided the spectacle that had been expected of the most eagerly anticipated F1 season in more than 20 years.
Perhaps it was the contrast between the pre-season billing and the boredom of Bahrain that sparked the opprobrium that followed Ferrari's one-two in the desert.
Whatever, Sunday's events in Albert Park proved the folly of writing off one of the world's most unpredictable sports so early and the wisdom of those - such as the world championship leader Fernando Alonso - who said that the new season should be given more time before being condemned.
Bahrain was indeed a poor race - but then it often is. Melbourne's circuit, though, lived up to its reputation for providing thrills and spills. A start on a wet track, some big crashes, and clever strategy decisions by Jenson Button and others, provided the recipe for some thrilling action and suddenly the F1 season has come alive.
Not all races this year will be as good as Melbourne, of course, and the sport's bosses do need to look at how hard it is to overtake. But there were hints in the Australian Grand Prix that banning refuelling may not be such a bad idea after all.
The last few laps of the race were exactly what some had thought the ban would throw up - drivers at the front on older tyres holding off faster cars on newer ones.
The hope was that would lead to some exciting climaxes to races, and that's exactly what happened in Melbourne as Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber dragged up to the back of the Ferraris, whose progress had been impeded by Robert Kubica's well driven Renault.
That is a recipe for incident - as Webber proved when he misjudged his braking point as Hamilton pulled out of a move on Alonso and cannoned into the back of the McLaren.
In any race where making tyres last a long time was potentially decisive, Button is always going to be the sort of driver who will benefit - his smooth driving style takes less out of the rubber than almost anyone else.
It was his decision to come in for tyres as early as lap six and, although he slipped off the track early in his first lap out of the pits, he set fastest times in the final two sectors of the same lap, and the others were forced to follow his lead.
Button's decision, described as "risky" by his admiring team boss Martin Whitmarsh afterwards, won him the race. He was eighth when he came in to change tyres but when the other leading contenders stopped two laps later, he vaulted up to second behind Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull.
The German was looking favourite to win, but for the second race in a row it slipped through his fingers. In Bahrain it was a broken spark plug; this time, a brake failure.
It is a moot point whether he would have beaten Button. Would Vettel have made a second stop for tyres, as did Hamilton and Webber, in which case he would have had to catch and pass Button? Or would he have stayed out? And if he had, would his tyres have lasted?
Either way, Red Bull really need to get on top of their reliability. Vettel is already 25 points behind Alonso. There may be 17 races to go this season, but that is the sort of margin that is not easily closed, especially to a man as capable and consistent as the Spaniard.
Massa struggled in Australia relative to his team-mate - Alonso was 0.7 seconds a lap faster than the Brazilian in qualifying and substantially quicker in the race. Alonso will almost certainly not maintain that advantage through the season but it is hard not to believe, as Martin Brundle pointed out, that the double world champion would have had a decent chance of taking second place from Kubica had he managed to pass his team-mate.
In many ways, Ferrari are to be applauded for not interfering and letting their drivers race - particularly after some of the farces that played out in the Michael Schumacher era - and it is certainly a little early in the season to be asking one driver to make way for another.
Nevertheless, they will be hoping Alonso does not need those three points come the end of the season.
His climb up from second last at the end of the first lap to finish where he did was one of many great performances in Melbourne - and it was yet another example of why he will take some beating in the world championship battle this year.
Button's stunning victory was another drive out of the very top drawer, while the entire race provided a timely reminder of F1's capacity to surprise and thrill.
Four world champions; Button v Hamilton at McLaren; Alonso in a Ferrari; Michael Schumacher's return (still not going very well); Kubica in a reviving Renault. There will be more great races to come - and some less so. But the basic ingredients remain there for a season to savour.