So the First Minister sacrificed Ms Hyslop when the opposition parties threatened to gang up behind a no-confidence motion. The bold Mr Salmond had - much earier - let it be known that the success of such a motion against one of his cabinet secretaries would lead to the resignation of the entire government, a ploy which discouraged the opposition parties from pressing their arguments.
But pusillanimous no longer - this time the opposition forced the First Minister to blink.
So what happens the next time the opposition has a beef with one of the cabinet secretaries? Say with Mr Swinney over the budget? The First Minister cannot keep on downgrading his cabinet secretaries. But can he risk a successful no-confidence motion?
Political life gets more interesting ...