Xi Jinping has taken the center stage as China's undisputed paramount leader.
The National People's Congress this week confirmed Xi as the new state president and chairman of the State Central Military Commission, making him the Communist party chief, head of state and commander-in-chief.
This completes the handover of power from Hu Jintao, 70, who ruled China for 10 years, to the 59-year-old Xi, who was announced as the country's presumptive leader last November.
Conventional wisdom had it that Xi would be a weak leader because he had not been hand-picked by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, as had Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.
Pundits also predicted that Xi would need two or three years to consolidate power because Jiang and Hu, his predecessors, were "looking over his shoulder".
Xi is proving conventional wisdom wrong.
In the past four months, Xi has taken steps to set him apart from his predecessor, signaling that change may be afoot.
He has, for example, directed officials to minimize pomp and privilege, eschew ostentatious banquets and refrain from "empty talk".
Symbolically, he made his first out-of-town trip not to a Maoist or revolution shrine, but to Shenzhen, the first laboratory of market reform which in a mere 30 years has evolved from a sleepy backwater village into a vibrant urban center.
Shenzhen is the product of Xi's late father Xi Zhongxun, a revolutionary leader who served as vice premier and governor of Guangdong province. While in Guangdong the elder Xi pioneered market reforms, including the creation of Special Economic Zones, of which Shenzhen was one.
It's not clear what legacy the younger Xi will leave so early into his reign, but analysts say events in the early days of his premiership have already put him to the test.
One of Xi's first challenges came just a month after he took over as party chief. A few days after New Year, staffers of Southern Weekly, a liberal-leaning newspaper in the southern city of Guangzhou staged a protest after a local propaganda official rewrote an editorial calling for stronger rule of law.
The dispute escalated with other journalists and Chinese celebrities giving protesters public support and putting pressure on Xi Jinping's new team to respect press freedom and free speech.
Days later a tentative compromise was reached, diffusing the crisis, but not all are impressed.
"The crisis ended in a kind of a draw -- no side really won," said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, professor at the Hong Kong Baptist University. "The only reform in the pipeline is administrative -- the streamlining of the Chinese cabinet, positive results likely but inconclusive."
Cabestan acknowledges Xi's new style but wonders if he brings new substance.
"Beyond a new way of speaking and a better ability to communicate and create empathy, Xi has not yet spelled out new policies or reforms," Cabestan said.
"He has indicated a willingness to deepen the fight against corruption and waste but by relying on the same institutions and methods. He has deepened China's foreign policy assertiveness but not really modified its modus operandi---so it's old wine in a new bottle!"
Some National People's Congress delegates I interviewed inside the Great Hall of the People are more sanguine.
"He rose up from county chief to the top, step by step," delegate Cai Shijie told me. "Even before he became number one, he knew what's going on in our society, the ordinary people's disappointments and aspirations. He knows what needs to be done to meet people's expectations."