Circumstances conspired to make Micheal Martin's first official visit to Northern Ireland as Taoiseach an overwhelming anti-climax.
The black face mask that he whipped off and on as he exited and entered the ministerial car told its own story.
Covid-19 seriously restricted the day's events, and it all felt fairly flat.
Three years ago, Leo Varadkar had delivered a lecture to a huge audience of the great and the good in Queen's University on his first official cross-border visit.
Coronavirus meant Martin wasn't even able to shake hands with Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill who came down the steps of Stormont Castle to greet him at lunchtime.
There's no love lost between the new Taoiseach and Sinn Fein, but nobody was being petty on Thursday and the Deputy First Minister gave him a genuinely warm welcome.
The meeting that followed was described as "pleasantly standard".
A source said the "edge" that was present during DUP encounters with the previous administration was gone.
Martin lacks the electricity and energy that Varadkar brought to these occasions publicly.
But behind closed doors, he impresses those who meet him.
"He was far more chatty, more conversational with Arlene and Michelle than Leo would ever have been," a Stormont insider said.
"Leo was a very shy person.
"He could be a bit socially awkward."
Next, the Taoiseach was off to Stormont House for a tete-a-tete with Secretary of State Brandon Lewis.
Then, it was over to the Stormont Hotel for meetings with Alliance, the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP.
All three parties gave him a big thumbs up yesterday.
UUP leader Steve Aiken didn't try to hide his disdain for the previous government. This was the opportunity to "reset relations", he said.
Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said: "Micheal Martin is already well known to us over the past decade but this was him reintroducing himself in his new role as Taoiseach and relating his vision and his priorities."
Alliance stressed the fragility of the devolved institutions to him. The party said that while they weren't in danger of collapsing, vigilance was needed.
With his very authentic interest in Northern Ireland and his attention to detail, Martin is not likely to be complacent in that regard.
The Fianna Fail-SDLP partnership means that Colum Eastwood needs no convincing of Martin's merits, and the Foyle MP was understandably enthused by the Taoiseach's visit.
Still, it was all a tad unspectacular as a media event. There were no great lines or pictures, or interesting exchanges.
Arlene and Michelle couldn't even manage a joint press conference afterwards. The First Minister headed off home to Fermanagh to join a virtual joint ministerial committee meeting to discuss a white paper on the UK's internal market post-Brexit transition.
It was an important meeting, yet the real reason for Foster's departure was surely that she thought it far too soon after the Bobby Storey funeral controversy to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder (or as close as social distancing will allow) with Sinn Fein.
The Deputy First Minister put a brave face on it, but she cut a forlorn figure as she addressed journalists alone under the shadow of Sir Edward Carson's statue.
That joint ministerial committee meeting that Foster joined proved to be a lively affair with the Scots tearing strips off Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove.
It was, by all accounts, spirited stuff compared to a well-meaning but monotonous day in Belfast.