The Battle of Hastings in 1066 lasted around 8 hours and produced a decisive result.

Last night, we had a rather shorter encounter in the first of this General Election’s Battle Of Hustings. The result is harder to determine.

Our two protagonists entered the arena with different benchmarks of success. For the Prime Minister, it was to reverse the narrative that the Election was all over. To convince the country that there was a choice. To appear as the Man with a Plan and, ironically, to almost appear as the challenger in the title fight.

The man who wants his job had more to lose. He has spent the last year on a safety-first mission: Don’t rock the boat, don’t offer any hostages to fortune, convince the country it needs a change – and to be that change.

In truth, these TV debates change little. A minority of voters watch. There are seldom any knockout blows. And even when, as Nick Clegg did against Gordon Brown and David Cameron in 2010, someone catches the imagination, it can be short lived. The opinion poll boost the LibDem leader got in his first TV debate evaporated by polling day.

But there is a value in them. They can set a tone for the campaign to come. They can inspire the base and define the divide on policy and personality. And in this era of social media, they provide endless fodder for posts to reach millions.

Which is why these events are performance art. The repetition of a key message. The defining and branding of their opponent. Putting on a show with well-rehearsed “spontaneous” ad libs.

As for last night on ITV?

Too much was crammed into too short a time. When the answers are measured in seconds, it merely panders to sound bite politics and does little for substantive debate. For my money, it was Mr Sunak who was more on the offensive. But he needs to interrupt less. Mr Starmer was cautious and needed to close down the tax attack quicker.

And who won? Unsurprisingly, supporters of each rushed to proclaim their man as victor. Often in posts written hours before the fray.

The public were more nuanced. The background was that Rishi Sunak started the night 20% or more behind Sir Keir Starmer in terms of personal and party support. So, when the snap YouGov poll landed as the studio lights faded, to narrowly “win” was, in truth, more significant than it first appeared. A subsequent poll this morning has the public verdict going the other way.

So, are they worth it? Do they have any impact? Or are they merely a bit of political theatre?

Only you can answer that.

Is there one thing you remember from the debate? In this instance, I bet there is. But will it change your vote or even your likelihood to vote? That is the acid test as the Parties prepare for the next Battle of Hustings.