The more things change the more, the more they stay - isn't that the old saying?
Things certainly looked and felt very different at Ballybrit yesterday as empty stands, bars, tents and parade ring replaced the usual excitement of Day One of the biggest social event of the summer.
That being said, it only took one race for the old normal to be restored as the Baron of Ballybrit, Dermot Weld, landed the spoils in the opener before adding a second success later in the evening.
It gave a real old-school feel and showed us that the master trainer can still be relied upon to get one perfectly ready for the big day.
Weld will have chances again this evening but his Georgeville looks hamstrung by an outside draw in the big race, the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap.
Housed in a much kinder stall for the feature event of the evening is BIG BABY BULL (6.45) for Denis Hogan and crack claimer Joey Sheridan.
Young Sheridan has been a revelation this season, and his services will have been in hight demand for this race as he is excellent value for the 5lb he takes off his mounts' backs.
Trainer Hogan also has an excellent grasp of the calendar and will have had his eye on this for some time with the lightly-raced four-year-old.
He was a talented juvenile when trained across the water by Richard Hannon, winning a Nursery at two before an unsuccessful three-year-old season in which he ran just twice.
He spent well over a year on the sidelines and switched to Hogan, after which he has already begun to make up for lost time, finishing an eye-catching fourth at Leopardstown on his return and then doing the business just six days later in the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire Handicap.
That success in itself was impressive, but there is still the feeling that there is more to come and he can go very close today from a kind draw in stall six.
Earlier on the card, soft underfoot conditions shouldn't worry Weld hope UMNEYAAT (4.45), who was an excellent third on his sole start on testing terrain in Gowran Park.
He was green that day but will have learned plenty and this has traditionally been a maiden that the trainer aims talented horses at.
Billy Lee was in tremendous form yesterday and did this column a favour when winning on Royal Canford - he has excellent claims in the Caulfield Industrial Irish EBF Maiden on TEED UP (5.15).
This lad was second in the mud at Gowran recently behind a talented Ger Lyons inmate, but they were nicely strung out behind him that day and his ability to handle conditions will be a major plus.
He is drawn wide but with a field of 13 it could be worse and if Lee can get him positioned well early on he can come home strongest.
Johnny Murtagh couldn't have the yard in much better form and he looks like he has an excellent shout with CHAMPERS ELYSEES (5.45) in the Colm Quinn BMW Irish EBF Corrib Fillies Stakes.
This filly deserves her spot in the Listed contest after an impressive win in a big field handicap at The Curragh last time.
That win puts her right in the mix and she also has winning form from last season on heavy ground so we should have no reservations on that front.
Lyons is already enjoying a magical season, with classic winners in the bag, and he can pick up a Festival win with FRANK ARTHUR (6.15) in the caulfieldindustrial.com Handicap.
The son of Kodiac hasn't been out of the front two in three runs this season and was a fine second at The Curragh last time following on from an impressive Roscommon win. A similar run would see him go very close.
SWISS ARMY OFFICER (7.15) is a speculative selection in the next after a fine effort when runner-up at Leopardstown last time, staying on late and just missing out.
That was over seven furlongs so the extra distance today should help and he would be a fair shout at around double figure prices.
DANI'S BOY (7.45) is a course-and-distance winner who should go well in the penultimate contest and, finally, Joseph O'Brien can round off the night with a success in the Latin Quarter Handicap with BLIGH (8.15).