Former Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to create a “Northern Powerhouse” back in 2014.
And it wasn’t long before people were delivering their verdicts.
Was he serious? Would he put the money in? And was this really a policy for the North of England or just for Manchester, where Mr Osborne appeared to focus attention and funding?
Critics point out that there is still a huge wealth gap between the north and the south,
But it’s far too soon to judge whether the Northern Powerhouse project is a success - because it hasn’t really begun.
In fact, it’s only next week, on Tuesday January 16, that the Northern Powerhouse really gets underway.
That’s when the new regional transport body, Transport for the North, will publish plans for dramatic improvements to transport links between cities in the North of England.
They’re set to include new rail lines connecting the cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle.
This is what the Government calls Northern Powerhouse Rail, though as it will link to the planned HS2 high speed line it could also be described as an expansion of HS2. Either way, it will be a major project.
And there will also be a new road connecting the North East and the North West, possibly with a tunnel underneath the Pennines.
These two major schemes will be accompanied by smaller but significant improvements, such as a proposed “smart ticket” system similar to London’s Oyster card for public transport across the North.
Full details are under wraps until next week. It’s been suggested the whole thing could cost up to £60 billion.
This is the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.
There have been other announcements in recent years, such as £337 million in funding for the Tyne and Wear Metro allocated in last year’s Budget. A lot of money has been spent on some vitally important projects.
Understandably, perhaps, the Government has argued such measures demonstrate its commitment to the Northern Powerhouse. But they don’t come close to the vision originally outlined by Mr Osborne.
As he explained in 2014, the Northern Powerhouse is really about bringing the cities of the North together to create a single economic powerhouse comparable to London, a sprawling city of ten million people.
The theory is that size matters. Firms that have lots of potential customers to sell to, and lots of potential employees to choose from, do well.
The fact that they also have lots of businesses competing with them doesn’t hurt either. In fact, while it might seem counter-intuitive, it actually helps.
Take silicon valley, as an example. The fact that a lot of technology entrepreneurs are clustered there just makes it a more attractive place for other high-tech firms to locate.
A city of one million people - roughly the population of Tyne and Wear - can’t be a powerhouse, not even a small one.
But if you improve transport links to such an extent that Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and the North East are effectively one big city, with a population of 10.7 million, then you have a recipe for success.
That’s the theory, at least.
Mr Osborne announced plans for a “Northern Powerhouse” in June 2014, in a speech at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.
He said: “In a modern, knowledge-based, economy city size matters like never before . . . there is a powerful correlation between the size of a city and the productivity of its inhabitants.”
The answer was to “think big” about transport.
Mr Osborne said: “We need an ambitious plan to make the cities and towns here in this northern belt radically more connected from east to west - to create the equivalent of travelling around a single global city.
“As well as fixing the roads, that means considering a new high speed rail link.”
He also spoke about improving local leadership, which has led to the creation of a series of regional mayors (not just in the north) and about investing in science and research.
But transport was first on the list, and an essential part of the project.
It could be argued that progress has been slow. On the other hand, perhaps it was always clear that Mr Osborne’s proposals would take years, or even decades, to achieve.
Anyway, next week we’ll find out what exactly is planned to ensure travelling in the North becomes “the equivalent of travelling around a single global city”, as Mr Osborne put it.
The first step was to create Transport for the North, a new transport body with a status enshrined in law and led by local mayors, councillors and business representatives.
It’s Transport for the North that has drawn up the plans, and the Government will respond later in the year.
Will the proposals live up to Mr Osborne’s ambitious vision? Will the Government provide the money needed to make it all happen? And if it does, will that really mean the North becomes a global economic powerhouse comparable to London?
We may not know the answers for a very long time. The work of building a Northern Powerhouse is just starting.