Breaking into Q3 straight out of the blocks in Australia. Doing that again with both cars and finishing 'best of the rest' in Bahrain. Lapping within a second of the pacesetting Mercedes in Friday practice in China. Meagre gruel perhaps for a team schooled in utter dominance, but this smattering of bright performances might suggest McLaren is on the verge of ending its long exile from Formula 1's top rank. Or does it?
There's a refreshing candour in the air at McLaren these days. Perhaps it's because of the swinging changes that have swept the polished corridors of its Woking base with troubling regularity these past few seasons.
Perhaps it's because last year's painful competitive low finally emptied the bank of complacent cant: if nothing else, the months after the expensive divorce from Honda palpably scratched McLaren's preferred narrative - that it made great cars, shame about the lousy engines - from the roster of acceptable excuses.