How fragile the Prime Minister looked. Theresa May wore a big, blue jacket, but her face appeared whiter, her eyes wider, her shoulders more tense.

Beside her, Damian Green looked tense too. The First Secretary of State, and old Oxford friend of the Prime Minister, has a gift for relaxing under pressure, or at least for not seeming to take things too seriously, but he was not the one who would need in the next 45 minutes to convey strength and self-assurance.

Facing her, Jeremy Corbyn looked ten times more confident than he used to. It would still be surprising to see him strike a knockout blow, for he is probably the lamest debater ever to lead his party, but he has so far surpassed electoral expectations that he cannot help feeling vindicated.

He tried to twit her about the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, having said that “some public servants are overpaid”. The twitting was not particularly effective, but the Conservative front bench could not treat it with the derision they used to pour on Corbyn.

After all, Cabinet ministers somehow allowed their differences on this topic to become painfully visible. It was almost as if they had done the Leader of the Opposition’s job for him.

May tried to demolish Corbyn: “The Labour Government crashed the economy.” But although she strove with every fibre of her being to end this last PMQs before the recess with a victory, she could not bring to her voice more than an empty echo of the genuine contempt with which she used to treat her opponent.

In a sense, these exchanges were entirely unimportant. Many of us are tired before going on holiday, and hope to return in a state of renewed vigour. Perhaps in September we shall see a reinvigorated May, able to march on with growing determination and authority, and sweep Corbyn aside.

Towards the end of PMQs, Green started to look a bit more cheerful, and so did she. She was still on her feet, and lives to fight another day. But she cannot be said to have to have lessened the sense of precariousness which surrounds her leadership.