So David Secher, Cambridge University's research director, has been appointed chief executive of N8 - the partnership of research-intensive northern universities that aims to seriously ruffle the feathers of Oxbridge, Imperial College London and University College London.
His reputation certainly made him a strong candidate. But as one N8 insider pointed out, only a couple of months ago he was to be heard bemoaning the dangers of the North getting more research cash than the hallowed golden triangle. "One of our arch critics is now captain of the ship," the source said.
But one insider said that the Treasury was a little bemused that the eight universities had started collaborating without stinging the Government for extra funding first.