The key to being a successful mayor is brilliant policy or inspired personal leadership - or a calculated plan to sail through the storm of City Hall avoiding council and manoeuvring at its fringes.
Is that what Mayor Rob Ford's tumultuous three years have taught him is the best course?
For a politician who rode to victory with a strong mandate for change, it must be quite a comedown. It also explains the large amount of free time Ford has, since he's doing fewer briefings and holding fewer policy meetings than mayors bent on introducing new ideas.
The clearest evidence of this tactical retooling came on the transit funding issue. Ford stopped trying to win his no-new-taxes position at council and, instead of going into a losing debate there, employed tricky motions at the April 23 executive committee meeting to table the city manager's report on new revenue sources and defer its discussion, thus delaying its consideration by council.
The newfangled Ford, who I am sure still doesn't understand the city's procedural bylaws, seems to have started listening to his staff, and his office appears more willing to strategize.
Whether his tabling contrivance works or not remains to be seen. Council may well find the two-thirds majority needed to take the revenue tool report out of the executive committee's hands.
Ford has also started trying to do what a lot of politicians who don't command the backing of their respective assemblies do: work on items that don't need to come before any committee or council for approval.
In the first two years of the Ford administration, the mayor never talked much about economic development; indeed, it appeared that despite being a "businessman," he never considered growth important.
Now he's making trade-related trips, one to Chicago last September and another planned to Boston, and you can expect more to come. The great thing about economic development is that it sounds good, and people just assume that anything of value will only come in the long run. So it's hard to fail at a trade mission.
We're also seeing a new Ford commitment to civic duties like neighbourhood cleanup days - a way to stay in the public eye and shift attention away from his setbacks.
The other way to have a fairly risk- free mayoral term is to let others propose agenda items and then try to craft them to fit your broad, vague agenda. The best example of this is the casino. While Ford has clearly come out in favour of it, he's staked little on the outcome, something that mayors who don't control their councils generally learn to do.
He even went a step further and linked future income from that unpopular revenue source to a project - transit - that enjoys a lot of support. Simply letting some things run their course while adding new elements or red herrings to ease their passage represents a strategy of sorts. What we are also witnessing is the mayor's move into campaign mode, where everything is weighed in the context of 2014. In the 2010 campaign, we saw incredible discipline from the Ford team; it's something we may be starting to see again.
The next few months will see the defining of the 2014 election-year budget, the debate on Porter Airlines' expansion, on which Ford has been supportive but not overly committed, and a host of smaller issues. Keep watching - the mayor is morphing from chief magistrate to candidate-in-chief.