Tony Abbott clearly ''won'' last night's People's Forum at the Rooty Hill RSL club, yet the impact of the much-hyped event on the larger campaign will prove evanescent.
The Opposition leader worked the upstairs room at Rooty Hill, in Sydney's west, far better than Julia Gillard.
His decision to come down from the stage on to the floor so he could ''be on the level'' with the audience was a clever tactic and set the tone for his hour-long interaction with the 200 undecided voters gathered to grill the leaders.
The organisers were last night accused of bias in making Gillard sit up on the stage on a stool while allowing Abbott to get down on the floor.
But they pointed out that both leaders were offered a choice of sitting or standing and it was Gillard's call to sit down for her presentation.
From this observer's vantage point (watching the People's Forum on television) Abbott came across as more natural, played strongly to his hometown advantage and used the event to press his campaign messages without sounding scripted.
The hostility to the NSW Labor government was palpable in the room and Abbott played it like a Stradivarius, exploiting this anti-State Labor sentiment in the moment.
But all the evidence is that when voters go into polling booths, they keep state and federal politics in different mental compartments, so while that helped Abbott at Rooty Hill last night, it may not travel that far on election day.
And while Gillard may not have appealed to the room as effectively as Abbott, she came across for the bigger television audience as steady, prime ministerial and intensely focused on jobs and the economy. Even so, it was hardly prime time: the event was broadcast only on Sky TV and will have attracted a niche rather than a mass audience.
This morning's newspapers have mainly characterised the event as a plus for Abbott and a minus for Gillard while the event's main sponsor, Sydney's Daily Telegraph, predictably reckons the people of western Sydney were the winners and its coverage has a sceptical tone towards both (indeed all) politicians.
The 200 voters in the room were asked to indicate who they would back on election day after what they heard: 71 nominated Abbott and 59 nominated Gillard and the rest were either undecided or reckoned a pox on both houses.
Interestingly if you exclude those undecided, those numbers are splitting 55 to 45 per cent the Coalition's way which is roughly where the opinion polls were a couple of weeks ago (the polls have since narrowed to put Labor very narrowly in front).
But with a third of the people in the room still undecided even after spending two hours one-on-200 with the protagonists, the campaign still has a long way to run.
Mark Davis is the national editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.