The dogs that didn't bark
In a moment, the bell will ring out around the Senedd and after questions to the First Minister, Assembly members will get their first set-piece opportunity to debate the draft budget. What will we get? I imagine that we can look forward to some sound and fury, certainly but in this morning's Conservative press briefing, all the talk was of the strange lack of sound and fury from Welsh civic society.
Listen. What do you hear? The relative silence that goes hand in hand with a broad welcome to a difficult announcement.
Strange? Just a bit because after all, this is the first proper cutting budget in the Assembly's history, so why such a muted response from all those organisations affected, from the NHS to local government to education? Especially since in previous years, responses have ranged from the gloomy to the apocalyptic. As my colleague Vaughan Roderick always asks on draft budget morning: so whose turn is it to gather the clip of the minister saying "it's a tough but fair settlement" and the local government representative saying "we've cut into the flesh, now we're cutting into the bone?"
The question was put to Tory leader Nick Bourne this morning - does this relative silence indicate that the Assembly Government's got it, well, about right and by implication, does it suggest your alternative plans get it wrong?
Mr Bourne opted for a leader-of-the-people tone. Perhaps Welsh interest groups might believe the government has got it right, he said but I'm appealing to the Welsh people. That's who I care about and I firmly believe they think we've got it right, he added.
Sitting next to him though, was Angela Burns AM, there to talk about the Tories environmental policy launch later in the week but also someone who has clearly been thinking about this for some time. And when Angela Burns has been thinking about something, it's generally worth listening to where that process has taken her.
Where are the howls of outrage, she asked. Where are the local government leaders promising rivers of blood? Where - specifically - is John Davies, leader of the Welsh Local Government Association? Why are the Local Health Boards not warning of swingeing cuts to services? If they did so in the good years, then why isn't it times ten in the bad?
And her answer? There's an election round the corner. The response - or lack of it - isn't because the budget is popular, it's because the institutions concerned are looking just over the horizon at life after May 2011 - and they know which side their bread is buttered.
Blood curdling warnings of massive cuts won't be popular should there be another Labour finance minister in charge of the books after May, particularly one who's just faced the Welsh electorate having to defend their party against quotes from various chief executives promising doom for public services under their budget plans.
"Just look at it guys" she implored, "It's pretty blatant!"
But the result gives Mr Bourne, Mrs Burns and their colleagues precious little to work with in attacking the government and hence today's outpouring of frustration.
Vague appeals to the wisdom of the people of Wales don't really wash too well when the government can point to endorsement - however lukewarm - from the people who actually deliver the services on the sharp end.
The Liberal Democrats have taken a different tack. Rather than argue the draft budget should be taken to bits and rewritten from scratch - not serious politics, the Lib Dems might argue - they're focusing on two specific areas, a pupil premium for disadvantaged children and an Innovation Fund to build an entrepreneurial economy.
Between them, they would cost £66.2m in 2011-12 and they've laid out exactly where they would find £66.2m to pay for them.
All well and good but does that mean, as an opposition party, they agree with 99.56% of the government's draft budget next year? £66m out of £15bn = 0.44%.
Hardly a figure to man the barricades with.
As one senior Lib Dem said afterwards, somewhat despairingly, this is what we've been able to piece together ourselves. If we knew more, we could make more changes.
It just goes to show the massive advantage held by governments when it comes to budgets: knowledge is power.
And it doesn't hurt to have those whose budgets you're cutting seemingly onside too - at least until after May.