There was possibly one politician who was more annoyed than Alex Salmond by Alistair Darling’s triumph in last week’s television debate. Gordon Brown, while cheering his side’s victory, must surely have been piqued that it was his former Chancellor who was being credited with saving the union and not himself.
Although the two Labour men have made up since their well-documented estrangement, Mr Brown is not a man to suffer competition, particularly from a one-time rival. Those comments from Mr Darling’s memoirs, about his “appalling behaviour” and “hopeless” leadership as PM, will resonate still as he strives to make his own mark on the referendum.
So far, he has been most notable by his absence. While other Labour MPs, such as Jim Murphy and Brian Wilson, take their soap boxes around Scotland and engage with the electorate, Mr Brown has kept his head down.
His main contribution to seeing off the nationalists was to create a separate pro-union group, Unite with Labour, but it’s hard to see how this has helped his hard-working party colleagues in Better Together.
Launched last May, Mr Brown said Unite with Labour would contact half a million households in three months but it seems to have fizzled out, or perhaps it’s just keeping a very low profile.
In June he emerged to show how the SNP’s sums didn’t add up and he set out seven reasons to vote “no”. He got a few headlines but since then there’s been barely a squeak from the member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.
Meanwhile, Mr Darling has marshalled his troops at Better Together without the help of his old boss and has managed to contain Conservative and Lib Dem differences within an increasingly successful campaign so successful, in fact, that he is being talked of quite seriously as a potential saviour of the Labour Party. Imagine how that is going down in North Queensferry.
If Mr Brown wants to do his bit to keep Britain intact and help deliver a convincing result on September 18 he will have to move fast or be the forgotten man of the independence fight. But there are signs that something is afoot.
On Monday he materialised at a Labour event in Easterhouse, Glasgow, to warn about the effect of secession on pensions. And on Friday he is appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to talk about his latest publication My Scotland, Our Britain: A Future Worth Sharing.
It is not too late for him to make an impact on the debate, especially where every vote counts, in the traditional Labour heartlands. The nationalists, whose support is strongest among young working class males, are targeting those who have the least to lose, and they have made some headway among disaffected Labour voters.
They are appealing directly to the dispossessed, promising them the earth, or at the very least an end to poverty, in exchange for their votes.
They have wheeled out their few star turns it was the actor Brian Cox earlier this week in Dundee to urge those loyal to Labour to look beyond politics.
Giving him a run for his money, the Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont waded in with a speech to this crucial left-wing constituency that focused on “fairness, equality and community”.
“Let’s unite around shared values which have no borders and build a Scotland for the many, not the few,” she said in Glasgow.
This is very much Mr Brown’s ground and he is a big enough beast north of the border to help coax any remaining undecideds away from separatists’ clutches.
There are people out there who think he has a moral compass and speaks for Scotland. But can his influence be harnessed for the good of the cause rather than just for the good of Gordon Brown?
In January he said he thought it was important to have an all-party group leading up to the referendum and promised that “all of us will be working closely with Better Together in the next few months”.
Perhaps he’s been putting in that work behind the scenes but he’s been invisible. Now it’s time for him to come out of the shadows completely, put paid to nationalist nonsense and dispel lingering notions of No being a Tory front.