The men who would be chancellor had a spirited debate this evening - with each playing to their strengths. Chancellor Darling put the emphasis on "judgement calls"; Vince Cable on his honesty; Mr Osborne on the need for change.
We'll wait to see how voters viewed the debate, to the extent that they viewed it at all. Even I might wonder whether an hour of debate on economic policy would set the airwaves alight.
The only news I spotted was the chancellor's admission that the government would not be proposing a death tax as the single means of paying for social care for the elderly, though it might be one of a range of options. It turns out the prime minister was supposed to be confirming that tomorrow.
But Mr Osborne did have to defend his promise to avoid Labour's "tax rise on jobs". After a day of claim and counter-claim on his proposals, this, I think, is where we are.
First, the Conservatives have done what we've been asking all the parties to do: they've suggested how they would cut spending this year: by £6bn in 2010-11. That's in addition to the roughly £7bn in savings Mr Osborne proposed last year, most of which - like the targeted public sector pay freeze - will only kick in from 2011.
Conservative officials insist that these cuts will accumulate over time, meaning that borrowing after 2010-11 under the Tories would be lower than Labour now plans. That may be so. But they haven't given us any firm targets for borrowing this year, or any other year. And they haven't even given us a guess as to how the efficiency savings announced today would continue to cut spending after 2010-11.
Given what senior Conservatives have said about government efficiency drives in the past - they will perhaps not be surprised if we don't give them the benefit of the doubt for 2011-12 onwards.
As for the 2010-11 savings outlined this morning: as I said earlier, it matters whether any of these are included in the government's own efficiency drive for this year.
The Conservatives say absolutely not. Labour says they might well be. But when they have yet to identify £26.5bn the £35bn they've promised in efficiency savings by the end of this fiscal year, Labour won't be surprised if we don't give the government the benefit of much doubt either.
Second, the Conservatives are swapping a certain tax rise next year for an uncertain spending cut this year.
The tax rise, they say, would have penalised employment - and hurt job creation - at a crucial time for the recovery. That may be. But by paying for the tax rise with new spending cuts this year, Labour and the Liberal Democrats say the Conservatives risk hurting the economy this year instead.
Of course, they may all be right. Given the weakness of the economy, most governments would rather not take £6bn out of the recovery at all. But unfortunately, we're borrowing nearly 12% of national income.
With luck, the equivalent of roughly half of a percent of national income won't make a key difference to the recovery in 2010 or 2011. But the Conservatives seem to be saying that £6bn is a hugely damaging number for the economy when it's a tax rise - but when it's a spending cut, it's a bagatelle.
In fact, when you add in the child trust fund and child tax credit changes they have committed to implement this year, the spending difference between the Conservatives and the other two major parties in Westminster this year is now more than £7bn.
There are some academic studies suggesting that tax rises are more harmful to growth than spending cuts at times like these. Equally, it's quite possible that greater spending cuts this year will not put the recovery at risk. It's impossible to know.
I return to my earlier point: if the savings are real, then so will be the effect on the economy, even if the private sector makes up the gap. And even if the hole in the public finances - under the plans that the Conservatives have revealed so far - ends today almost exactly what it was at the start.