After 14 months of meeting, greeting and even some bleating, Sir Clive Woodward has finally revealed his master plan for British success at London 2012.
Most of that meeting and greeting has been conducted by Woodward himself as the British Olympic Association’s elite performance director completed a global tour to discover what makes an Olympic champion.
And most of the bleating came from those who wondered what a rugby coach could teach them about their own highly specialised Olympic disciplines.
The headlines from Thursday’s launch were dominated by the number of “world-class” nutritionists and psychologists Woodward has recruited to join Team Clive, sorry, Team GB, and the number of hand-picked athletes who would get to enjoy the benefits of these experts’ expertise.
On the former, Woodward was effusive: here are the 10 leaders in their field I have already got on board, he enthused, and believe me, these guys are good.
On the latter, Woodward was elusive: there is no number, he sidestepped, before admitting it depended on the funding he and the BOA could raise as “these guys don’t come cheap”.
Ultimately, these stories always boil down to money, and money is why this story is more important than if Johnny Wilkinson’s kicking coach can or cannot help our rowers row faster and throwers throw further.
Perhaps the most encouraging thing about the launch was not what Woodward and his BOA bosses Simon Clegg and Colin Moynihan said, but who was listening, because there, down the front, were UK Sport chair and chief executive, Sue Campbell and John Steele.
UK Sport, for those of you not up to speed with government quangos, is the body responsible for dishing out your money to our finest sportsmen and women. It is currently dishing out £108m a year.
Set up in 1996 to make sure Team GB never again performed as poorly as it did at the Atlanta Games that year, it has made considerable strides over the last 11 years and can reasonably claim to “run” elite sport, particularly Olympic sport, in this country.
The problem is, the BOA can also reasonably make this claim, particularly when Olympic sport is actually at the Olympics.
Cue one seriously strained relationship punctuated by periodic bouts of open warfare.
This week seemed set for one of those bouts as Steele was quoted on Monday saying he had concerns about Woodward’s Olympic project.
“There is potential for duplication,” he said. “It is not about whether we like (Woodward’s plan) or not, it’s about whether it fits into what already exists.”
And if that was too coded a message, he then said he was worried the BOA and UK Sport would end up competing in the same market for funding.
Because while UK Sport convinced Gordon Brown to loosen the Exchequer’s purse strings to the sum of an extra £300m between now and 2012, it also has to find (or more precisely, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has to find) another £100m itself.
Cue one seriously strained relationship punctuated by periodic bouts of open warfare but with added squabbles about money.
Or so we thought.
Because while Woodward explained why it is much better to be a sponge than a rock (receptive not resistant) and the relevance of teaching a golfer to juggle, the subtext suggested peace has broken out between the BOA and UK Sport.
Clegg, Moynihan and Woodward couldn’t pay enough deference to UK Sport’s work and the primacy of its “Mission 2012” panel of experts, which count Woodward amongst their number. Moynihan even went as far as to condemn “concerns” about "reactionary forces" to the dustbin of history.
And Campbell and Steele wore the expressions of people no longer alarmed by the cuckoo in their nest or the hand in their cookie jar.
It is clear that a meeting of minds has been achieved, although it was perhaps closer to a banging of heads together as both sides talked of “ministerial support” for their “complementary provision of services”.
Just how long this peace lasts – as only the most optimistic observer would describe it as anything other than uneasy – depends on two things: what happens next with Woodward’s project, and how all the key players in the British Olympic family (have I mentioned the £700m the organising committee is still looking for to actually build the Games?) get on with their fundraising.
The first part of that equation is relatively straightforward. The case study which Woodward based on 20-year-old (no longer) amateur golfer Melissa Reid will now be extended to Scottish judoka Euan Burton.
How the Woodward way is working on an Olympic athlete will then be reviewed by British Judo and the BOA early next year with the final nod of approval coming from Mission 2012.
If all goes well, and the noises from UK Sport were broadly positive (British Judo cannot wait to get started), an orderly queue of national governing bodies is expected to form at the BOA’s door with boxing most probably at the front.
If all goes wrong, Woodward can reflect with some pride on a year that has seen him transform the fortunes of a young golfer and sell his ideas to the highest bidder.
The second part of that equation is going to be rather more complex but on a day of peace and reconciliation such as this one, nobody was in the mood to worry about dreary subjects like “duplications of funding” and “crowded market places”.
But they will. And that is why this peace, which really is essential for Britain’s hopes of hitting its target of fourth in the medal table in 2012, must be built on and worked on.
George Bernard Shaw once said “peace is not only better than war but infinitely more arduous”, and it must be hoped the BOA and UK Sport remember this, particularly (when things get arduous) the first bit.