Had George Russell not emerged to complete 23 laps shaking down the Williams on Wednesday, Mercedes would have ended a day of testing as the slowest team for the first time in the V6 turbo-hybrid era.
In what's proved to be a quiet start to pre-season for Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, they finished 11th and 12th on the timesheets. Bottas is 15th for the week overall, while Hamilton is 17th. Only the troubled Racing Points and the largely absent Williams drivers sat behind them with one day of the first week of testing remaining.
Mercedes hasn't slipped to the tail of the field and Hamilton's title hopes aren't in tatters. No amount of extrapolating the data from the first three days could back up an argument that they had. But there have been questions over why it might be keeping its powder this dry, especially as last year it did show performance earlier than this.