Anything less than a perfect replica of the 2000 Guineas was always going to be a disappointment for Frankel fans, but connections issued no cause for alarm as the sport's shining star took his unbeaten record to seven in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Frankel's display at Newmarket over six weeks ago, when he had broken his rivals by halfway, still takes the breath away and jockey Tom Queally was also affirmative here, urging the 30-100 favourite to chase his pacemaker Rerouted and sailing clear before the home turn.
He could not maintain his merciless pace to the line, allowing Zoffany to get to within three-quarters of a length, but Queally and trainer Sir Henry Cecil maintained Frankel had merely decided he could take it easy for the final furlong.
Cecil said: "He settled really well. The pacemaker went off very fast and he had to ask him to take it up. Tom said when he was in front a furlong out he thought he'd done enough. He said he was getting really idle, which is good in a way as it means we can ride a normal race on him.
"The plan was to kick on rounding the bend as he had done in the Royal Lodge (here) last year, but now he's getting wiser and he thought he'd done enough, rather like in the Guineas. He wasn't at all tired, he just thought he'd done enough.
"I think it's inevitable we'll meet Canford Cliffs and Goldikova somewhere, unless this horse goes over a mile and a quarter, which would be the Juddmonte International. Maybe the Sussex or the Juddmonte, we'll see."
Queally added: "He settled better than he's ever settled. Nobody wanted to chase the pace so as a result I went sooner rather than later. He was running for a long way and was just getting a bit fed up in front. He does it so easy.
"He wasn't getting tired. He's growing up all the time. Everyone seems to think he can just jump and run but he's more versatile than that. We've got options with regards to tactics and he's the one to beat at the moment."
Aidan O'Brien said of the runner-up: "We're delighted. Our horse has got a lot of speed but he'd never raced beyond seven furlongs and he was a Heinz Stakes winner over six. We'll have to stick to a mile now and have a look at something like the Sussex."
Marco Botti said of third home Excelebration: "We're very pleased to be third behind Frankel and we closed the gap on him from Newbury. Dubawi Gold hampered us, but no excuses, he ran a good race. He proved he's a Group One horse and I'm sure we'll find one for him."