Four and a half months have passed since the German chancellor Angela Merkel, ignoring the din of demonstrators and helicopters roaring overhead, had sought to convey, her eyes flashing this way and that, an essential fact: that she had come to Greece "not as a taskmaster but as a friend to listen and be informed".
On Tuesday, the French president, François Hollande, standing on the same highly polished marble floor, under the ornate roof in the mansion that is the Greek prime minister's office, looked straight ahead. With his hands flapping this way and that, he went a step further.
He had come to Greece to send not only "a message of friendship but a message of support, a message of trust, a message of growth". And he explained his reasons went beyond him being no austerity warmonger.
"Greece needs to be supported by the whole of Europe," pronounced the socialist. "No people in Europe have undergone such a trial, such a test, so we must be at the side of Greece."The nation is now in its sixth straight year of recession with unemployment at a European high of 27%.
More than three years after Europe's ongoing debt crisis erupted in the shadow of the Acropolis, the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, also wanted to make clear that the country, for so long at the centre of that drama, may not have survived had it not been for Paris.
"France is a historic friend. The French people have always been on the side of the Greeks," he declared before waxing lyrical about the role the nation had played in the country's 1821 war of independence, the return of democracy after the collapse in 1974 of military rule and its accession to the then EEC in 1981. "France has also given us crucial support over the past few months to stay in Europe and is supporting us today to exit the crisis."
If Merkel's visit last October was all about mending fences ahead of German elections in September was greeted with banners declaring "out with the Fourth Reich!" (guardian.co.uk)