As the fog of war lifts, you can see more clearly the contours of what has happened in the recent past.
We lost in 2008 for reasons I have canvassed before - people thought we were focused on issues that weren't important to them; we'd been in office for a long time; there was a recession; people had fallen out of love with our political style; some of our policies were not working out or were unpopular; and failures of political management added on top of this combustible pushed us over the edge.
That's what we did wrong. The Nats also did things right: they really did move to the centre, and they selected a leader who people like. Actually, they *really* like him - for the time being anyway.
We do have strengths though. People generally get the message that we ran the economy well, that health and education got better, that we ran a foreign affairs policy people can be proud of, and that we had a capable government that was doing its best for the people.
The Labour Party thus enters 2010 in a reasonably good position. Last year we managed total leadership change in the caucus and the organisation, we managed to get our fourteen new MPs working well, and we spent a lot of time out around the traps listening to people.
Our task this year, to be blunt, is to listen to what people have been saying, and to go beyond listening, and into reflecting back the things we are hearing and seeing what people think. Instead of listening and saying "that's nice", we have to say, "we've heard you and this is what we think."
That's policy, in some areas, but it is also in the politics or statecraft of the party. For better or worse, the fifth Labour government was a baby boomer government. The political methods of the 70s and 80s were those which ran it: it was tightly managed and focused.
I get the sense though that people are looking now for something a little different. Some in Labour look at Key's hands off approach and see a weakness. I see a strength. The rise of ICT, the end of "deference" towards authority, and growing generations of people who are as comfortable online as offline mean that a political party that is centralised and top down cannot really capture the public imagination.
What Labour must do is turn itself inside out. As we say "this is what we are hearing, what do you think?", we also have to invite people in to join with us and help shape what we are doing next. We have to use the best technology there is to do it, as well as the traditional means of face to face and direct mail politics. We need to be the party that people see as grassroots based, and where they know that if they want to raise an issue or a concern, it will filter through to what our policy is and what our politicians are saying and thinking.
We have to do this if we are to be relevant, and if we want to win there is nothing more important than being relevant.
When people broadly think that the Labour Party is the party that they can shape, that listens to them, and that reflects their concerns and hopes and aspirations in the nation's politics, then we will know we are on the right track.
It's not about rejecting what we did when last in government; it's about setting up the next government in a way that is relevant to people.
I'm looking forward to seeing how this agenda plays out over the coming months.