Mahe Drysdale's put down his best race since winning gold at the Rio Olympics but it wasn't enough to claim the honours over rival Robbie Manson at the National Championships.
Throughout his career Drysdale has been part of some of rowing's most memorable match-ups.
It's always been Ondrej Synek or Allan Campbell, or Damir Martin, it's always come down to a one on one in the end.
But today at lake Ruataniwha Drysdale was again racing Robbie Manson - a man 11 years his junior and the man the four-time Olympian has to beat if he's a chance for a fifth Games in Tokyo next year.
After taking a break following his gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, it's been a constant challenge for Drysdale to reclaim the singles seat.
He hasn't beaten Manson since his return and that didn't change today.
"I was just wanted to stay in control and not try and do too much too early and run out of gas." Manson said.
There was little danger of it as he went on to win by a three-second margin.
But Drysdale, who's had a recent training stint with former coach Dick Tonks in Canada, was encouraged that he's narrowing the gap.
"There's still a few things I can improve on it's certainly I come in on that with a lot of confidence." Drysdale said.
For Manson it was job done once again as he looks set to secure the sculling berth at this year's World Cups and World Championship.
"I haven't lost a sculling race at the nationals for three years - and everything is going to plan." Manson said.
Both Manson and Drysdale are full of confidence just 10 days out from the elite team trials.