There was a good 10ft between Brian Cowen and Peter Robinson as they shared a platform in Belfast yesterday.
But the two men - as party leaders, ministers and as individual people - have never been closer.
For the first time the Finance Ministers north and south were agreeing on the development of an important sector of the economy on an all-island basis.
In such terms, it was difficult to under-estimate the importance of the sight of the men who pull the purse-strings of Ireland standing together.
But this was about much more than simple money.
For Mr Cowen was in Belfast as Taoiseach-in-waiting, formally replacing Bertie Ahern.
And by the time they arrived at Belfast's superb Science Park, Mr Robinson had just been formally nominated as the next leader of the DUP.
It paves the way, Thursday's rubber-stamp meeting of his Executive notwithstanding, for the East Belfast MP to become First Minister.
Mr Robinson said he had noticed how former Chancellor Gordon Brown had become Prime Minister and the south's Finance Minister was becoming Premier there.
There was, he quipped, definitely a pattern developing.
Asked how it felt to have waited almost 30 years for the job, he joked: "I'm a patient man."
This was a million miles from 'Peter the Punt' territory, the silly and offensive - in unionist terms - sobriquet applied to Mr Robinson in the days when cross-border activity meant invading Clontibret.
Not a mention of the place, or the past, yesterday. These were men firmly looking to the future.
Mr Robinson said he was not prepared to make the kind of assumptions he would have to make to answer a question on whether he will have a different kind of relationship with Martin McGuinness to Ian Paisley.
But that answer tells you it is going to be very different.
As the two dark-suited future next leaders of Ireland, north and south, stood together it was hard not to think in terms of new dawns.
But it was hard, too, to escape the conclusion it's about to get fairly dull around here.