The television clash between Gerhard Schroeder and Angela Merkel was must-see television for many Germans.
Whether watching at home or in social surroundings, it was a chance for voters to judge the two contenders in their only head-to-head duel. The debate was broadcast live on four leading public and private TV channels.
Snap polls may have indicated that Schroeder won the debate but a majority of those surveyed said Angela Merkel had performed better than expected.
A final statistic from one survey is worth bearing in mind: only 13 percent said the debate had changed how they would vote.