In 2007, then Green Party leader Trevor Sargent coined the phrase "Planet Bertie" to describe Fianna Fáil as a party that was "so strange and so alien to our sensibilities" that the two could never join forces in government.
Despite this, the Green Party was sucked into Fianna Fáil's orbit and they formed a coalition, with Mr Sargent stepping down as leader to facilitate the deal.
At the time, there was no recession and no national crisis. The Green Party was happy to cast previous promises aside and enter government to implement its policy proposals.
Contrast this with the mantra from the Green Party today. In advance of the election, the party didn't rule out doing business with anyone. Its sole concern, it said, was its green agenda and getting into government to implement it.
Now, as the body count from Covid-19 keeps rising, those reliant on income support from the State tops one million people, and social networks disintegrate all over the country, the Green Party is suddenly apprehensive about entering government.
The Labour Party has previously done business with both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. Its most recent outing, coalition with Fine Gael in 2011, was at a time of unprecedented economic upheaval.
The party entered coalition in 2011 with 37 TDs and emerged, battered and bruised in 2016, with just seven. That was whittled down to six in the last election - the worst performance in its 108-year history.
The party has maintained it has been unfairly maligned by voters and took the brunt of anger at austerity measures that were introduced. There is some truth to this argument, but the party usually overlooks is its own culpability in its downfall.
It went into the 2011 election, when the fiscal position was clear and an austerity programme had already been agreed with the Troika, making a range of promises on everything from free third-level education to eradicating a tax on wine.
Its notorious 'Every Little Hurts' advert, modelled on a Tesco promotion, warned that a Fine Gael majority government would increase car tax, VAT, Dirt, impose a duty on wine, and slash child benefit.
The advert was credited with denying Fine Gael its majority, and the Labour surge that saw it enter government. But, despite its presence in that administration, every tax hike and spending cut it promised to oppose was duly introduced.
It's not true to say Labour was punished solely for taking so-called "tough" decisions, as its revisionist members love to claim. It lost the trust of the electorate and has not yet found a way to win that back.
The Green Party also suffered grievous damage for its move to Planet Bertie. Its parliamentary party was wiped out, with all six TDs losing their seats. Fianna Fáil didn't dance into the sunset either. It too was almost eradicated, losing 57 seats and winning just 20.
Why the trip down memory lane? Smaller parties, justifying their refusal to countenance coalition today, point to their previous mauling whenever they have entered government with a larger party and ask, 'why should we bother?'
The answer to that question, now, should be obvious. They are among a privileged cohort of the population, just 160 people, who are elected to represent the five million people in this State. And, those people are now in trouble.
None of us has ever seen anything like this pandemic. Nearly 700 people have already died, thousands are ill and more than 900,000 have become reliant on the State for income support in a matter of weeks, all at a time when family and friends are unable to provide physical support to each other.
Now is not the time for posturing or political games. It is not the time for smaller parties to sit back and plot how they can grow in popularity from the opposition benches. It is time for action. It is time to lead.
Nobody is saying that smaller parties should meekly enter government to be railroaded by their larger partners. They have policy platforms that are important and implementing those policies should form the basis of any agreed programme for government.
The framework document produced by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, risible as it is in its dearth of detail, is an open door that they can kick in.
The aspirations contained in the framework document - a single-tier health service, housing for all, a living wage - are the stuff of left-wing parties' dreams. It should not be beyond the wit of parties who cite these policies as being of core importance to put some flesh on the bones of what is being suggested.
There is certainly a risk when entering government, but smaller parties don't have a monopoly on electoral pain. Fine Gael has more than halved in number, from 76 TDs to just 35, since 2011.
With great risk comes great reward. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have made their coalition deal contingent on the participation of a smaller party. The framework document is a blank page that other parties have the opportunity to fill out.
If the Green Party wants ambitious targets on emission reductions, get it included in the deal. If Labour wants to use this period of disorder to reimagine how the State provides social and affordable housing, get it included in the deal. If the Social Democrats want a single-tier health system, get it included in the deal.
The only thing these parties must not do is over-promise and under-deliver. Learn the lessons from Labour in 2011, prioritise policies, and work to achieve them. Above all, do not renege on red-line commitments.
In an ideal world, left-wing parties would join a majority left-wing government and the centre right parties would be consigned to the opposition benches. But nothing about our current reality is ideal and forming a government to guide the country through this calamity is a now a matter of urgency.
Smaller parties who hold the balance of power are currently wielding enormous influence. If they don't use it, they may never have this opportunity again.