“Better policies, better communicated” was repeated so often by Mike Nesbitt during the leadership contest that the former UTV anchorman obviously believed it to be among his best soundbites.
It worked and, though new to politics, Mr Nesbitt crushingly defeated the then UUP deputy leader John McCallister in an 80-20 victory.
Just 10 months later, the party is in such an internal crisis and some senior members are so disillusioned that they are already looking back wistfully to the Tom Elliott era while others are briefing that Lord Empey could be brought back as an interim leader.
Significantly, some of those most unhappy with the state of the party were staunch supporters of Mr Nesbitt just months ago.
Against that backdrop, the disciplinary action against Basil McCrea is crucial for Mr Nesbitt’s leadership and for a party which despite its battered state still has significant electoral support.
It has been extraordinary that despite the flag protests creating enormous strain within the DUP, the UUP has not even attempted to capitalise on such an opportunity to fight back against almost a decade of growth for its larger rival.
Rather, the UUP’s public rows and Peter Robinson’s ability to persuade Fred Cobain to defect in the midst of the protests have reinforced the public image of a party incapable of landing blows on the DUP even when presented with opportunities to do so.
Whatever the outcome of the case against Mr McCrea, the party faces a dilemma: if he stays, the three veteran Belfast councillors have all but said they will leave; if he is disciplined, Mr McCrea has heavily hinted that he is prepared to continue the fight, probably in court.
Having lost last year’s leadership contest argument about the UUP entering Opposition, Mr McCrea and Mr McCallister might have been expected to pose a difficulty for Mr Nesbitt. But a far more significant problem is those who backed Mr Nesbitt but have now given up on him.
The Young Unionists — who less than a year ago were among Mr Nesbitt’s most enthusiastic supporters — meet today for their annual conference and will be addressed by Mr Nesbitt.
Some of their number most vocal in support of Mr Nesbitt 10 months ago are now publicly silent but privately despondent.
In an open letter 10 months ago, eight of the 11 members of the Young Unionists’ executive backed Mr Nesbitt over John McCallister, describing him as someone “capable of properly articulating the Ulster Unionist vision to the electorate”.
Now a quarter of those who signed the letter have left the party, mirroring the haemorrhaging of high profile members over that period.
In that context, there is the potential for Mr Nesbitt — who, unlike Lord Trimble when he faced such battles with Jeffrey Donaldson, does not have a lifetime’s immersion in the UUP’s culture and structures — to be deeply damaged by the Basil McCrea saga.
Mr McCrea, though he faces the very real prospect of not being an Ulster Unionist within months if the committee finds against him, can look to the example of David McClarty.
Dropped by the UUP and standing as an independent, he actually increased his vote.