In another age, before the expected 2020 calendar was swept away by the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, six days of pre-season testing at Barcelona provided a theoretical guide to this year's Formula 1 pecking order.
Anybody hoping for clear signs that Mercedes had suddenly produced a dud with the W11 was left disappointed, as the team that has claimed all 12 titles since 2014 topped the times at both three-day tests. But there was delicious drama behind - indeed, in the back of the W11, as Mercedes twice had to swap engines as reliability problems dogged the reigning champion squad, and impacted customer team Williams.
But it was the team that has finished directly behind Mercedes in the past three constructors' championships that sounded particularly downbeat about its chances. Ferrari spent the two Barcelona tests running a programme that was focused on fully understanding the SF1000 and not getting carried away with headline times and race runs, which had led to so much dashed hope at the start of 2019.