With under two years to the next assembly election parties should be starting to strategise. But that must be nearly impossible in the middle of two crises, Brexit and Covid 19.
Covid places us all in a context that was unimaginable just at the beginning of the year, when the Executive parties were making up and returning to their desks.
Brexit has faded from our concerns after a couple of years of total preoccupation with the damage it might cause or the hopes it raised in some reckless hearts.
And if the world can change so much - twice! - then who's to say it won't change again in unpredicted ways before we get to vote?
Still, the parties have to devote time now to planning their uncertain futures.
Arlene Foster and the DUP have to address the declining available voter base as the Protestant population loses its coherence and its majority status. There was a time not long ago when unionists were called "the majority", as if that was a stable reality which secured the Union for all-time.
Next year we will have a census and it is expected to show a further slide in the numbers who identify as Protestant and unionist.
The Union relies now on people who prefer not to call themselves unionist but look to the future without feeling any urgent determination to create a united Ireland. That being the case, the DUP has to reach those people and start winning some votes from them.
Its immediate problem is that the Alliance Party has already beaten it to that demographic.
Alliance has a problem, though. It wouldn't be fair to dismiss it as a personality cult, but it follows the most impressive political leader we have, Naomi Long.
She is articulate, witty and sharp. But parties that identify themselves too strongly with a leader tend to wither a little when the leader moves on.
Stephen Farry has the brains but perhaps not the same facility in gutting an opponent.
Long at her best will put Stephen Nolan or Mark Carruthers back in his box. Farry does well if he merely survives a hard interview.
The Ulster Unionist Party might be better placed to win soft small 'u' unionists than the DUP. Robin Swann has had an impressive profile during the Covid-19 crisis. He had the courage to take the health portfolio, seen as a dangerous one for a minister even before the pandemic. This seemed at odds with his previous decision to step down as leader of the party.
And there may be a price to pay yet if future enquiries into the handling of the virus point up crucial mistakes. But for now he is looking good. His party leader seems almost invisible, but there is further muscle behind him in Doug Beattie.
Beattie has understood what others have not; that you are better answering Nolan's phone and getting the experience the show gives of having to fight and hold your own.
Claire Hanna understood that too and has developed into a popular and confident debater. The SDLP generally is doing well with a generation of young and able contenders. And the abortion issue, on which several members chose to go against the public mood for religious reasons, has at least gone away.
Sinn Fein strategises like no other party but currently looks half-hearted.
Michelle O'Neill's standing in the current Assembly should be as joint First Minister, not Deputy. That was the legacy of the 2017 election which it opted not to capitalise on.
Now, after the Storey funeral O'Neill looks like an indulged junior partner while Foster takes the podium alone to address us on the changing rules and guidelines on the virus.
The big Sinn Fein issues of a border poll and an Irish Language Act are getting no airing currently.
And with Gerry Adams and Francie Molloy both in recent days dismissing core principles of the Good Friday Agreement, one is tempted to wonder if it is already planing an alternative route to a united Ireland.
The end of the Brexit transition and the census coming after may tempt it to feel that the case for a border poll is about to get stronger.
And the argument will be reinforced by the experience of the virus and the logic it presented that the island should be treated as one jurisdiction.
In Scotland the case for independence has grown stronger in the background while the news agenda was focused on the pandemic, so perhaps something similar is happening here. Nicola Sturgeon has gained huge credit from her handling of the crisis, and she is personable in a way that Foster and O'Neill are not.
Sturgeon tweets about the novels she is reading and thanks people for their birthday greetings. She has just turned 50 and is not coy about that.
She has established a relationship with the public that no one here has got and that only Long could aspire to.
So where to now for our local parties?
If I was advising Foster I would urge her to show that she has a bit of hinterland beyond the church, reverence for the monarchy, the Army and the loyal orders.
It would do her good to be seen sunning herself bare legged on Rossnowlagh beach and reading a Marian Keyes novel.
If I was advising O'Neill I would say that she has to prove that she isn't a puppet but an actual leader who can stand up to her own party. She is damaged by her failure to adequately defend her participation in the funeral of Bobby Storey.
She could start by disowning Molloy's criticism of the Good Friday Agreement.
If I was advising Long I would say she is right to bring forward young talent like Sorcha Eastwood, who has a nice, sharp sting in her tweets while seeming to have a real life outside politics.
Alliance is also developing party structures in rural areas, which is good.
The SDLP is doing well, lifting its profile through Westminster successes, but the climb back to real prominence is long and slow.
It's new idea is a New Ireland Commission, which will need to get unionists into a conversation about constitutional change.
The UUP also has to find a way of distinguishing itself from Alliance and a DUP that must liberalise too.
And then there are the Greens and People Before Profit. They should keep their independence from other parties and preserve the integrity of their arguments. Learn from Jim Allister. A lone voice can shake pillars.