Ten years ago, Henry McLeish shadowed education for Labour when Michael Forsyth was doing his best to restructure Scottish education on a Thatcherite model.
The 51-year-old MSP for Central Fife, tipped to become education minister in the new executive, now returns to only part of the remit - further and higher education and lifelong learning. Enterprise is his key brief.
It is rumoured he was none too keen on returning to the schools front.
Significantly, student tuition fees on which the security of the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition appears to hang, have fallen to Mr McLeish who was a key Labour negotiator in the partnership talks. Nicol Stephen, 39, the Liberal Democrat who took Aberdeen South, becomes second in command.
Mr McLeish has a reputation as a conciliator, and chaired the cross-party steering group which drew up the working arrangements for the Scottish Parliament. He has no known strong views on his new brief but has a higher education background, having lectured part-time in social sciences at Heriot-Watt University. That, however, was some time ago.