Gordon Brown and David Cameron took the gloves off in the second TV debate of the General Election campaign in a bid to block the Nick Clegg bandwagon.
But instant polls of viewers of the 90-minute Sky News debate suggested they had not done enough to derail the Lib Dem leader's drive for Downing Street which gathered pace after a clear victory in last week's debate.
Both the Labour and Tory leaders took a more combative approach to the debate in Bristol, after being criticised last week for giving Mr Clegg an easy ride.
Rather than repeating "I agree with Nick" in a bid to win the Lib Dem leader over to their side, at one point Mr Cameron even said "I agree with Gordon" over nuclear weapons.
But after his victory in last week's debate gave his party a boost of up to 12 points in the polls and turned the election into a genuine three-horse race, it was Mr Clegg who came under most pressure over his policies on Europe, Trident and immigration.
As the Lib Dem leader repeated last week's attack on MPs from "the old parties" who "flipped" their second homes to maximise their income from expenses, Mr Cameron stepped in to warn him not to place himself "on a pedestal".
Both Mr Brown and Mr Cameron accused the Lib Dems of planning an "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, while Mr Clegg said that the other parties were "in denial" over the impossibility of deporting hundreds of thousands of migrants who have settled in the UK for a decade or more.
And Mr Clegg came under attack for his proposal to include Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent in the strategic defence review which all three parties have promised to hold after the election.
The Lib Dem leader cited a group of retired generals who have warned that going ahead with replacing Trident could take money away from troops on the frontline, and said that US President Barack Obama had identified the threats of the future as terrorism and failed states, against which nuclear arms could not be used.
But Mr Brown told him: "I have to deal with these issues every day and I say to you, Nick, get real."