The half-hearted attempt by the Assembly Government to seek the powers to ban smacking in Wales not long ago spawned a thousand dodgy headlines (yes, me too on this blog) but was quietly dropped.
The Welsh Affairs Select Committee said it would impinge on the criminal justice system, which isn't devolved to Wales. Nice try with all your talk of banning smacking "on social welfare grounds", was the message: now get real. Welsh Ministers backed off.
So is the present row over the Assembly Government's request for powers to legislate over the so-called right to buy scheme a case of back to the future? Welsh Ministers asking for more than they think they can get, being helpfully guided - or slapped down - by the Welsh Affairs Select Committee and backing off?
I don't think so and here's why.
MPs' message on smacking was simple and proved irresistible: you don't have the right to ban smacking, so don't expect us to give it to you.
On suspending, or even scrapping the right to buy, the message is far less straightforward: you do have the right to do both but you only discussed suspension of the right to buy when you talked to us about it, so we believe you should stick to that. In fact you only seem to want to suspend the right to buy in certain areas in extreme circumstances so sticking to that narrower request really shouldn't bother you.
Just being helpful.
Not the same message at all and neither is the response. It's not proving hard this morning to find Assembly Members who are lining up behind the Presiding Officer. I'm not talking just Plaid either. The Conservative group is not backing his argument but Labour, Plaid and Lib Dem AMs are. He is, they're more than happy to say on this occasion, on the money. This can't be about MPs letting go only those powers the Assembly Government says - and can prove - it needs now. What about the scope for future policy making?
MPs on the Welsh Select Committee might regard this as a bit of posturing by Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas but there are plenty of AMs who don't ... I'll venture to add, for once.
David Jones MP has this down as the PO going off on one, on cue.
"He does appear to use the argument that he is the self appointed custodian of the Welsh constitution" he says. "I really don't know where he gets that from. He is the Presiding Office for the National Assembly for Wales no more no less in the same way that a County Council chairman is the chairman of a County Council. But he has appeared to have adopted this grander role of guardian of the Welsh constitution which frankly is bemusing everybody else."
Alun Michael - who does sound genuinely bemused by it all - believes it's a case of a man who can start an argument in an empty room doing just that.
Except today, the room is filling up with people who have no appetite at all to back off, who see no reason to back off, who believe the accusation of 'anti-devolution sentiment' is well made and who rub their hands at the thought of the Secretary of State checking up on his guidance notes and acting "as honest broker should there be any dispute between the Assembly and Whitehall or Westminster".
In other words they think he should come down on their side and have the air of people who think that on this occasion, if eventually called upon, he just might.