When Michael Noonan told the Fine Gael national conference that we'd be "astounded" by the Budget's good news, some of the assembled media wondered whether the Minister for Finance had dropped a clanger he might later regret.
Since the first of the miserable modern Budgets in October 2008, every Budget has been an exercise in managing expectations. The Budgets of 2008 and 2009 were an expert example of how governments try to build expectations for bad times, only to leave the misery machine so overhyped that the final product seems moderately harmless for most people.
Michael Noonan has never been a master of spin - one need only look at his performance as Fine Gael leader in the 2002 general election as proof of his difficulty in manipulating public emotion - and one may have feared that, when he told a room of acolytes that Budget 2014 would be 'astoundingly' good, he'd allowed a throwaway remark to get the better of him.
The last two days have been largely full of positive news: free GP care for children, no increase in the pupil-teacher ratio, and what have you. It seems as if the upbeat attitude of Michael Noonan might have been with good reason.
But that in itself brings its own challenges: once the public have digested the early good news, they'll expect more on Budget Day itself - otherwise their expectations, having been raised, will be dashed all the more deeply.
The biggest problem here is that - with pupil-teacher ratios saved in Education, and free GP care for under-5s in Health - the burden of delivering most of the bad news will fall to Joan Burton, as the Minister for Social Protection.
She's likely to have to tell older people that they'll have to chip in for their TV licence and landline phone - and she'll also have to tell young people that if they can't get work, they'll be looking at a smaller Dole payment than their peers.
The explanation for the latter will probably be the advent of the Youth Guarantee: the idea that every under-25 will be put into further education or training if they can't get a job within four months of leaving school.
Certainly, if the entire country is in education, training or work, then the Dole is moot - nobody will be drawing it.
However, the problem for Minister Burton is that she must also manage expectations. The Youth Guarantee - an EU initiative, intended to take effect in every single member state - certainly isn't going to be in place by Christmas. In fact, despite having been approved by Social Affairs ministers in February, it hasn't yet made it to the formal agenda of a European Parliament committee meeting. Going on a realistic European timetable it won't take effect until 2016 at the earliest.
But that timetable - and Minister Burton's sort-of-true attestations that the Youth Guarantee is something she herself engineered at European level - isn't going to pass muster with the youth of Ireland, who are already dealing with the psychological burden of missing most of their friends and trudging along with the idea that they'll never comfortably own their own homes as they continually chip away at a mountain of nationalised Celtic Tiger debt.
A 22-year-old finishing up in college - and who can't afford the Masters degree they realistically need to find work - could have previously expected to at least have the minor comfort of €150 a week. Now they will now be looking at €100, on the premise that they can take a JobBridge programme to try and keep ticking over.
It will be a monumental challenge to convince them that they're having their Dole cut for their own benefit, while they anticipate the 'imminent' introduction of an EU-wide scheme which hasn't crept much closer to fruition since Fianna Fail's European Commissioner, Pee Flynn, first mused about it 20 years ago.
Tomorrow, managing the expectations of Ireland's challenged youth may be the biggest challenge of all.