There were no theatrics. No flamboyant costumes like Muammar Gaddafi’s. No moments like Nikita Khrushchev bashing the podium with his shoe or Yasser Arafat brandishing a gun.
This year’s United Nations General Assembly debate was very different. Not so much a debate as a glorified Zoom meeting.
In fact not even that. World leaders were not even live sending in their speeches, they were done ahead of time, pre-recorded.
It’s the time of year dreaded by New York cab drivers and commuters who instead breathed a sigh of relief when the UN invoked quarantine regulations effectively preventing leaders from coming in person.
Every year Manhattan is gridlocked by motorcades as leaders and diplomats are ferried through the solid traffic.
But the rest of us are entitled to worry that at a time when the world is so troubled, leaders haven’t been able to gather in the UN’s huge hall to lecture and listen to each other and try to solve our global problems.
Will any of them bother to read or listen to what their counterparts said?
The United Nations secretary general pointed out that the UN’s founders set it up “having lived through a pandemic, two world wars and a genocide” urging world leaders to rise to today’s challenges.
But then they were able to meet in person and thrash out the details.
“We are moving in a very dangerous direction,” said Antonio Guterres.
“We can’t afford a world split between two great powers,” warning of a new cold war between the US and China.
Tensions between the two overshadowed the first day of debate.
China’s leader president Xi Jinping said his nation had “no intention to fight either a cold war or a hot one with any country”.
But US President Donald Trump sounded less conciliatory using the occasion to blame the UN for what he called the China virus, confirming fears that without an audience, some world leaders might be even more outspoken.
“The Chinese government, and the World Health Organisation – which is virtually controlled by China – falsely declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission,” he said in his pre-recorded statement.
“The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions,” he said, before also laying into China’s environmental record for good measure.
Without naming America, President Xi Jinping pointedly said “no country has the right to dominate global affairs, control the destiny of others, or keep advantages in development all to itself”.
Mr Trump was spared the ridicule of being laughed at for claiming his administration had achieved more than almost any other in history – as in 2018.
But he used the UN pulpit to deliver a campaign speech aimed squarely at American voters not a global audience claiming a list of achievements and blaming his country’s coronavirus disaster on the Chinese.
Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro courted controversy too, downplaying the fire ravaging his country’s rain forests and wetlands.
Despite the evidence of unprecedently grave infernos documented by Sky News and others, Mr Bolsonaro said his country was the victim of a shady and brutal misinformation campaign to discredit it.
On the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN, this was not the world coming together to solve its mounting challenges.
Instead it was the spectacle of two great powers sniping at each other and deepening their differences on the world stage.
Little reason to be cheerful at the end of day one, unless you’re a New York cabbie.