THE excitement around Ruth Davidson’s return to the front benches was palpable. The saviour of the Scottish Tories was back. Like the terminator. Or a particularly nasty bout of conjunctivitis.

Say what you like about soon-to-be Baroness Davidson, but nobody can deny her political nous. Over the course of a few short days she managed to cook up a pact with Douglas Ross, remove Jackson Carlaw and install herself as leader of the Scottish Tories at Holyrood.

Not bad. But it should be noted that outfoxing fellow Scottish Tories is about as impressive as beating a small child at a game of Connect 4.

Her new role comes with its perks – though sadly not the hefty financial ones she’s used to.

She gets to square off against her old foe Nicola at FMQs again.

London commentators positively quivered with the anticipation of it all.

READ MORE: 'Clearly rattled': Twitter reacts to Ruth Davidson's FMQs return

FINALLY, a proper fighter in the ring to take down Sturgeon. Because Davidson was great at FMQs when she was leader, wasn’t she? She must have been. They all said she was.

Over to FMQs and Ruth was getting ready to prove once and for all that she deserves all the praise heaped upon her.

She went on the SQA exam fiasco, which should have been an easy win. This week, Scottish school kids have achieved more than any opposition leader has in recent memory, so canny Ruth would simply follow where they have led.

Davidson began by saying that the exams saga had been a “new low for this government’s handling of the education system”.

She demanded that Nicola Sturgeon write to every Scottish university and tell them to honour offers made on student’s predicted grades.

She said it was “ridiculous” that pupils still don’t know whether they will be accepted into university on their chosen course and suggested that one way to build back trust was for the Scottish Government to be more “transparent”.

Sturgeon, in the manner of a gymnast warming up their muscles for a triple roly-poly jump off the big bar, started off gently.

“I think the opposition – perhaps understandably, given experiences with governments elsewhere – are maybe struggling to grasp a key element of this: the Government is not trying to pass responsibility to the SQA, the Government is taking responsibility itself.

“Ruth Davidson refers to previous incidents with the SQA. One thing that is really different now to then is that we are living through a global pandemic. We were not able to have scheduled exams this year. We are big enough to say we got it wrong, to apologise to young people and to put it right.

It’s been a while since Ruth Davidson has faced Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs, so it’s understandable that she seemed unaware of the jibe she was setting up for herself when she replied, urging Nicola Sturgeon to restore “trust and transparency” in the system.

“In a few months, I will submit myself and my government to the verdict of the Scottish people in an election.

“That is the ultimate accountability for our record and our leadership. And as we do that, Ruth Davidson will be pulling on her ermine and going to the unelected House of Lords.”

Sturgeon wasn’t finished. Of course she wasn’t.

“So can I gently suggest to Ruth Davidson that when it comes to holding to account and scrutinising politicians, she’s really not coming at this from a position of strength.”

After that takedown, Davidson wasn’t going to fall into the same trap again. Oh wait.

In demanding John Swinney’s resignation, she remarked sarcastically that Sturgeon’s “loyalty” to her colleague was commendable.

“I’m not sure loyalty to colleagues is a strong suit for Ruth Davidson”, replied Sturgeon.

As the SNP benches broke out into applause, Jackson Carlaw was seen weeping quietly in the corner. Whether they were tears of sorrow or laughter, nobody knew for sure.