The Lib Dems do not believe that the game is over. Whilst they are obviously worried about what will happen next year, they remain bullish. What we also saw though was leading MPs thinking about what a post-Clegg world might look like.
I feel great sympathy for my old colleague Nick Clegg. Many of us expected a rough ride mid-term, but by now I thought his fortunes would turn as the party matured into government and the tough choices started to reap rewards. With the election looming I was confident that polling would pick up rather than head downwards. So what can he do now?
After a summer consisting of writing large tracts of my upcoming book, wearing a Del Monte man hat and harpoon fishing with Jeremy Paxman and his awesome beard, I've now returned to my usual beat. And just in time, because I wouldn't miss the Liberal Democrat Party Conference for the world.
On Tuesday, the Liberal Democrat Conference will debate and vote on the future of Britain's nuclear weapons system. Putting this controversial issue out for open debate is much to the party's credit and its record on challenging the status quo on Trident is streets ahead of the two main Westminster parties, which remain mired in Cold war thinking.
While the leader will almost certainly survive into the next parliament it seems likely that his party will suffer significant losses unless the conference in Glasgow can begin develop a distinctive and consistent platform of policies on which to fight the next election.
Nick Clegg may feel rightly aggrieved that a coalition he continues to see as courageous and necessary - for both his party and the country at large - now seems to be an unheralded disaster.
In the digital age, over a million people watched Clegg's tuition fees apology - original or remixed - in four days. If a single lesson can be taken from the Deputy PM's chart success, it's that the power of the internet is not to be underestimated.
Behind the rows of gleaming suited photos lies the real story of Party Conference season. In the uniformed ranks of colour-coded allegiance - a yellow tie this week, a red one next, a true blue one a week later still - are the million stories of all our years at school. From satchels to red boxes, Tupperware lunch boxes to hospitality buffets... the types are there.
I heard talk of the current session of parliament ending ready for party conference season, making me think back to when I worked in an office and the three weeks leading up to our Christmas shindig was a nightmare of people preparing for our get together like it was the only time they'd ever been to a party.
Following the gathering of evidence from experts in their fields, conference will debate several substantive motions on housing, socio-economic inequality, sources of sustainable prosperity and jobs and workplace democracy.
David Cameron is one of life's natural optimists. He wants the British people to "summon the appetite to fight for a better future". If material economic gains will only slowly fill the nation's bellies, Mr Cameron will need to offer something alternatively holistic to feed the nation's soul.
If the proposed rainbow coalition of smaller parties and Labour was not possible it was not the only option. The Lib Dems could have told the Tories to go it alone as a minority Government. The Lib Dem defence for entering Coalition instead of remaining in opposition is bazaar, as it is big headed.
Coming to Liberal Democrat conference has changed over the years. It used to be the case that you were ignored. You'd spend your days earnestly debating policy motions and amendments then read precisely zilch about it in the next day's papers.