In the run-up to the local elections, not to mention the Royal College of Nursing's conference, the government took a fearsome bombardment on the health front.
Ministers were failing to tackle hospital bugs. They were burying (on their website!) evidence of worsening patient experience. They were burying nurses in paperwork.
Most dramatic of all, the Conservatives devoted both a leader's speech and a Commons debate to "Labour's secret blueprint for polyclinics" and the threat to the very survival of that much-loved institution, the British GP.
The British Medical Association top brass say the same as Lord Darzi completes stage two of his review.
"Holed below the water line... the central command and control era" is not dead after all, as Andrew Lansley's health deputy, Mark Simmonds, declared triumphantly in the Commons. Health officials say they had been tipped off to expect a week of Tory health attacks. "Gotcha," as The Sun might say.
I read Conservative leader David Cameron's elegant speech to the King's Fund with interest and looked forward to the debate, where MPs on all sides made useful points. But it was clear from the outset that the central allegation wasn't quite right: polyclinics are not being imposed at the expense of GPs' independent status. There is no "secret" plan.
Did I say "polyclinic"? One thing the debate made clear was that health secretary Alan Johnson and sidekick Ben Bradshaw are not using that word much any more. You may not read it in the next Darzi review either. "Health centres" are back, but only up to a point.
What's the difference, I asked? A polyclinic is like a small cottage hospital, a one-stop shop for life's lesser problems; in Oz some even have a resident vet. Health centres are a collection of GP practices under one roof, sharing services. That will continue, as will single-GP practices.
And the future? Both the Cameron speech and Mr Lansley's Commons attack promote organic reform of primary care in which the driving force should be "the discretion of the professionals, responding to the needs and wishes of their patients". They contrast it with what Mr Cameron called "policy by PowerPoint" in which clever Labour policy makers fail to understand the importance of human relations.
There is much in the Tory critique. Labour made a bad fist of the new GP contracts and is trying to get some money back; private sector involvement has been hit and miss; practice-based commissioning seems to have run out of steam, although ministers are working on it.
The Tory vision strikes me as putting too much power in the hands of the medical professions and the market to address efficiency, underprovision and inequality, where Labour's record is better, though not good enough. Look what markets have done for banking!
In short, the laudable Cameroon effort to decontaminate Brand Tory's reputation as anti-NHS has led the shadow cabinet to fall victim to "producer capture" - that things are done for the benefit of the producer, not the user - by the medical establishment. That is what Mr Bradshaw believes. "We were amazed. Cameron's speech and the 'secret plan' press release could have come from BMA HQ," he told me.
In his own Commons speech, Mr Bradshaw quoted the CBI disappointment that Mr Cameron seems to be echoing opponents (the BMA?) of public sector reform.
As for the "secret plan," the opposition's claim that GPs are not being consulted about primary care reform rests on a "ludicrous" misunderstanding. The "secret" was announced by Lord Darzi in December and refers to procurement rules where real conflict of interest problems exist, as Mr Lansley's speech confirmed. In as much as Whitehall-driven compulsion looms, it is that each of the 150-plus English primary care trusts must now set up an 8am-8pm seven-day health centre. In 50 deprived areas, 103 new GP practices will also be set up.
Ministers believe this is what blue collar families want, not just yuppies. Meanwhile, the Darzi review continues, with no intention of imposing any one-size-fits-all solution. This is the version I think I believe. "The Tories are trying to make GPs the next Post Office closure row,'' concludes Mr Bradshaw. "It's a facile comparison."