Ireland's lightweight four may have finished out of the medal zone at the World Cup regatta in Munich yesterday, but fifth place in their final was significant for a different reason.
It marked a return to form for a crew which spent last season in the doldrums after two successive world championship medals which should have provided a springboard to the Olympics.
The arrival of veteran coach John Holland to take charge of the squad, coupled with the return of former world champion Gearoid Towey, who had taken a year out from sport, are two of the factors which have reversed the crew's fortune.
But in yesterday's final they lined up alongside the British world champions, as well as former gold medallists France and China. The pace set by the opposition proved too great for the Irish as they faced their first major contest together since the Eton world championships in 2006.
China made all the running to take their first gold medal of the season, just half a second ahead of Great Britain, and only the new Serbian crew fell victim to the Irish.
Richard Archibald, a crew member ever since the Athens Olympics, was pragmatic after their defeat.
"We've used this as a learning experience, we experimented and we came out of it with a good row. We're coming back to this level of competition -- we've got to see what everybody else is doing and how they're approaching races," he said.
It's now three weeks to the next opportunity to test themselves at the World Cup regatta in Switzerland but the acid test comes another three weeks later in Poznan, Poland, where the Olympic qualification regatta offers the last chance for the Irish to make it to Beijing.
Ireland's heavyweight four have already qualified for the Olympics by virtue of their placing at last year's world championships. Rowing with recently recovered James Wall in the bow seat, they slipped out of the running in their semifinal on Saturday and finished fourth in the B final to place 10th overall in the competition.
Ireland's selectors are likely to reshuffle the rest of their squad before Lucerne, including the women's doubles, as they consolidate their efforts through the World Cup circuit.