Timing is everything and nothing. Certainly Marc Bolland's timing looked as immaculate as his suits when he quit Morrisons a year ago to join Marks & Spencer.

Like-for-like sales were cruising at 4.3%. Conversely, the M&S share price had dipped to 361.5p - Sir Philip's 400p benchmark a bygone - and with half-year results showing profits flat at £298.3m, and like-for-like sales down 0.9%, Sir Stuart Rose cut a crestfallen figure.

One year on, Morrisons is back on terra firma, with this week's Q3 like-for-likes in line with the market at a measly 1.3%, confirming the convergence of the multiples as Tesco's wily Sir Terry Leahy predicted.

But what's this? The M&S share price is up to 412.8p, and like-for-likes could top 5%.

Of course, Bolland can take some of the credit for the figures. In particular, the decision to invest in an early autumn womenswear campaign, rather than waiting for the usual Christmas 'knickers' ads. But his contribution has surely been marginal in his six months.

Tuesday's much-anticipated interim results and business update will be fascinating not only as it marks or should that be Marcs? a new era but because the next set of like-for-likes are sure to be a lot more challenging, with public sector job cuts, VAT hikes and commodity price hikes to contend with, the cost of cardboard (p5) the latest to soar in price.

Meanwhile, new Morrisons CEO Dalton Philips doesn't have such onerous like-for-likes. But the intensity of promotions has seen Asda's eye-catching £40 Christmas vouchers undermining the Morrisons £30 loyalty scheme, while Tesco has responded with all guns blazing to a 300% increase in the use of buy-one-get-two free promotions by Morrisons.

It looks like great timing for Sir Terry Leahy and Andy Bond. But to listen to the optimism of the New Generals (p38) you realise that it's not about a moment in time. It's also about the journey.