Devolution returned to Northern Ireland at midnight last night - hours before the new power-sharing Executive was formally due to come into being.
Earlier yesterday Secretary of State Peter Hain finally signed the restoration order effectively consigning himself and his Direct Rule team to the political back-burner.
While his period in office has been marked by continual controversy, Mr Hain will use the high approval rating which today's Stormont success story will bring, especially in the Westminster 'village', as a fillip in his campaign to become the next Labour Party deputy leader.
Mr Hain believes the new deal will stick. There is as much likelihood of Direct Rule being re-imposed on Scotland and Wales as coming back again in Northern Ireland, he has claimed.
The long-awaited official restitution came four years and seven months after the Assembly was suspended - for the third time.
The institutions set up under the 1998 Good Friday deal had been viewed as robust as the Agreement itself but were dogged by a stop-start political process, in particular over IRA decommissioning.
The DUP and Sinn Fein appear keen to avoid the constant instability which finally thwarted the Ulster Unionist-SDLP dominated Executive.
Mr Hain said it had been "very striking" at both a personal and strategic level how the parties have come together - better than the last Executive.
A series of political firsts is on the cards following today's ceremonies at Stormont, which include a special reception for 300 guests.
Prime Minister Blair, in perhaps his last major formal function before announcing his departure date later this week, is due to make a short speech voicing optimism that the new dispensation will finally succeed. He will be joined by Mr Ahern who is also expected to give a four-minute address as he faces his own unsure political future in the increasingly frenetic election battle in the Irish Republic.
While today marks the start of the new Assembly, proceedings should be comparatively brief and its first full meeting will be tomorrow - when committee chairpersons and vice-chairs will be elected.
The first actual item of business today, however, will be the nomination and election of a new Assembly Speaker, expected to be William Hay of the DUP, replacing Eileen Bell who is leaving the main political stage. After weeks of briefings by departmental officials and private meetings between the parties, the first meeting of the Executive could then come later this week.
There will be the first meeting of the Assembly business committee, now able to decide on what is debated without Mr Hain, and the corporate body the Assembly Commission which runs the Stormont estate.