Isn't defeat wonderful?
And with one round, he was free. One round of voting, that is.
Labour's Iain Gray seemed decidedly liberated at first minister's questions today.
For why? For this reason: he no longer has to act as defence counsel for the UK Labour government, rebutting taunts from the FM. Isn't defeat wonderful?
Today Mr Gray had the best gag on offer: he did a few sums on the SNP performance in the UK election, by contrast with their forecast.
Instead of a Baker's Dozen - 13 not 12 - we had the Salmond Score, six not 20.
OK, Frankie Boyle's job is safe. But, on the day, it worked.
More seriously, Mr Gray tackled the issue of impending cuts, citing the example of jobs to be lost in NHS Greater Glasgow.
These were not, he said, Labour cuts or Tory cuts or Liberal Democrat cuts. They were to be laid at the door of Alex Salmond and his Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon.
In response, Mr Salmond made two points: the NHS budget had risen in real terms, despite constraint on the total available; Scotland's largest parties (SNP and Labour) should unite to demand concessions from the new UK coalition.
Reasonable points to advance. Substantive issues. But, somehow, they fell a little short by contrast with the simplicity of liberated opposition, delivered by Mr Gray.
Now, that does not mean that Mr Gray has complete justice on his side. Merely that he no longer has to look over his shoulder when launching his oppositional attacks.
Further, he is buoyed by Labour's performance - in Scotland, strictly in Scotland - in last week's election.
Again, that does not mean Labour's showing will be replicated at the Holyrood elections next year.
On the day, Annabel Goldie performed rather well, swatting aside Mr Salmond's reminder that she had deplored the impact of a Cleg(g) bite during the election.
Tory anti-histamine would sort that, she soothed.
And Tavish Scott must be relieved that he didn't face more in the way of satire or invectice for his party's decision to support the Conservatives.
Mr Scott pre-empted such criticism by drawing attention to the announcement by the new (LibDem) Scottish Secretary that the detention of children in Dungavel will cease.