The Education Secretary's message to headteachers was clear: get on with implementing the new curriculum.
Schools had known for years that Curriculum for Excellence was coming; they were not emerging from the jungle after 40 years to find a new world, he told the EIS conference.
Mr Russell made the comments in response to a question from Karen Prophet, headteacher of Firrhill High in Edinburgh. As the lead officer for CfE in the city, she was enthusiastic about the changes but it was the scale of the challenge and the time to deliver that she took issue with.
"It's not that it can't be done or taken forward - it's simply about pace and planning of change," she said.
The EIS supports the introduction of the new curriculum but has been calling for the new examinations, due to be introduced in four years, to be delayed.
Mr Russell, however, remained unmoved. "It's about prioritisation," he declared. "We are not expecting everybody to do everything at once - that's the basis of management."
A number of support measures were now in place, Mr Russell told the conference. He announced that former directors of education Keir Bloomer and David Cameron were producing simplified versions of the Building the Curriculum documents - dubbed "Curriculum for Excellence for Dummies" by one head.
Mr Russell reiterated his offer of tailored support for schools, set out in March as part of a 10-point action plan to ensure schools were ready to ring the changes from August.
But the heads claimed they had no idea how to access this support. One said he had asked his authority, only to be told they would not know until they attended some continuing professional development in the central belt.
Funding and lack of clarity remained major concerns for the school leaders. One primary head talked of having pound;600 to run a school of 200 children for a year. Another spoke about a council overspend that led to thousands being clawed back from schools in February.
Curriculum for Excellence was more expensive to deliver than the normal curriculum, a secondary depute head pointed out.
Lack of information about examinations remained a problem, they continued, with one head commenting: "Parents ask me what these exams will look like and I tell them what we are doing in S1, S2 and S3 will prepare them fully - while I cross my fingers behind my back."
Another delegate said: "I'm glad my son has gone past that stage."
Others commented that they thought they understood what was being asked until the new National 4 qualification was revealed to be a 160-hour course.
"If you work back from that, it means it would have to be studied over two years, so what happens to the broad general curriculum in S1 to S3?" a secondary head asked.