A very grand sideshow?
The gold shone bright as ever. The gleaming horses trotted in traditional time.
But the biggest event of Parliament's year felt like an impeccably choreographed, grandly produced, historically faithful sideshow.
The only hint of change in the ceremony - the monarch, for the first time, taking the lift.
David Cameron's hope for today was to create a coherent sense of his remaining ambitions, help for those he believes politics has left behind.
For his critics it takes some convincing, particularly in a time of cuts, to give that any credence.
And as Boris Johnson watched from the squash of the crowd in the Chamber, and Michael Gove enjoyed the black and silk gown of the Lord Chancellor, the looming threat to the Conservative Party from the debate over Europe was all around.
Mr Cameron's private Tory enemies and public opposition critics claim there was not much in the speech.
But with the EU referendum weeks away, the prime minister is grappling with significant political dangers.
With the EU debate raging, and a tiny Commons majority, perhaps this is a time of big risk and small ambition.