It wasn't quite a repeat of last year's Jekyll and Hyde Thursday/Friday performance, but Rory McIlroy once again stuttered in the second round of the DP World Tour Championship.
Twelve months ago he thrashed a first round 64 only to back it up 24 hours later with nothing better than a 74.
In this year's first round he'd again cruised the Earth Course at Jumeirah, this time for a 7-under-par 65 that earned him a two shot lead, and heading to the 18th tee of the second circuit his advantage remained, albeit was halved.
By the time he walked off the green, however, he was one shot in arrears of top spot: his drive found sand, his third shot found water, the bogey putt didn't find the bottom of the hole.
As we'd highlighted in the first round report, McIlroy's difficulty with maintaining the pace after a hot start is a long term trend, both on this course and elsewhere.
It was notable, however, that he was relatively sanguine after signing for a second round 70. Not in a flippant manner, but as if his head is in a good place and that he'd brushed off the disappointment.
"It's a comfortable tee shot for me," he said of hitting driver down the last. "It was playing slightly back into the wind. I hit that tee shot really well. I've never really hit anything else but driver off that hole. I actually didn't expect it to go as far as it did and get up into the face of the bunker.
"And then, the third shot. Where the ball was, it was just sort of thatchy and it came up spinny into the wind. I hit a good shot and felt like I didn't deserve to be in the water.
"It was a tricky up-and-down from there. Not the greatest way to finish and it was a little scrappier than it was yesterday but felt like I was doing okay, still right in the golf tournament.
"I'm playing nicely. The good stuff is in there. 70 is sort of the worst I could have shot today, especially with the finish. Hopefully that's the bad one out of the way."
In dropping those two shots McIlroy handed the halfway lead to the trio of Shane Lowry, John Catlin and Sam Horsfield.
The first two carded superb 65s with the latter adding a 66. McIlroy shares fourth with Sweden's Alexander Bjork.
Collin Morikawa, who leads the Race to Dubai rankings, is in a tie for sixth with Martin Kaymer a further blow back on 8-under.
Of the 12 winners of this tournament eight were tied second or better after 36 holes and 10 were within three blows of the lead (all 12 were T12th or better and within five shots).
Nine of the 12 already had a top seven finish in the tournament and 10 had a top three finish in the Middle East.
Of those currently within three shots of the lead, Lowry, McIlroy and Sergio Garcia (7-under) fit the bill. Given that front runners do so well here, Lowry looks in good shape.
What did the leaders say after play?
Shane Lowry (-10, 65)
"My game is in good shape and I know my way around this place, how to play here. I'm happy to be on top of the leaderboard and looking forward to the weekend. When we came here first, you could barely stop the ball at some of the pins but, as the years have gone on, it's got softer and a little bit easier. If you make bogeys out there, you feel like you're reversing down the field. Two more days and then the end of a long couple years. I'm looking forward to giving everything and leaving it on the course this weekend."
John Catlin (-10, 65)
"This is a very challenging golf course. Every single shot has to be executed almost to perfection. It's definitely nice to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say: I've been here before (as a Tour winner) and I can do it again. That kind of kept me steady here on the back nine."
Sam Horsfield (-10, 66)
"I feel like I've been playing pretty well, just haven't been scoring great. I made five birdies in a row (around the turn), nice to see some putts drop. I had a little wobble, 16 and 17, but it was really nice to birdie 18. Definitely don't feel like I'm out of place or do not belong here. Obviously I feel like my game is really good."
Collin Morikawa (-8, 68)
"I'm aware (that I'm in pole position to win the Race to Dubai). But I've got to focus on the weekend. I want to win this tournament. That's all I care about, winning this tournament. Everything else will settle itself. That's my focus. We've played a decent two days and we've got two more rounds to go."
A very happy fan.
A nice little ricochet.