Leaks and kites are part and parcel of the budgetary process, so why the sudden consternation?
It seems slightly astonishing that Tánaiste Micheál Martin would be so annoyed by the intervention of three Fine Gael junior ministers on budget tax measures when his own party colleague Willie O'Dea perfected the "fiver for all" pension demand over many years.
But in a coalition where Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been forced to unite on policy and positions, more is at play than simply cutting a few euro from income tax or increasing the weekly pension. Ahead of a general election both Leo Varadkar and Mr Martin will have to reaffirm their own individual party identities.
In a week that saw tensions mount between the two main parties in Government, Mr Martin made it clear that he will not be tolerating any budget fliers from Fine Gael, nor will he allow his Minister Michael McGrath to be put under pressure from others in the Coalition.
He told his own party members that McGrath has overall responsibility for the budget process and will be insisting that his Finance Minister is given the space to work it out.
"The public would expect no less," he told a private meeting on Wednesday night before hitting out at Jennifer Carroll McNeill, Martin Heydon and Peter Burke over their newspaper op-ed in which they lobbied for a €1,000 tax cut for workers as part of the budget.
Mr Martin said the intervention - which was slammed as "nuts" by some in Fianna Fáil - was "not helpful" as it "undermines" the budgetary process.
Mr McGrath had earlier told reporters that he would not be bullied into making budget decisions. But at a parallel meeting on Wednesday, Fine Gael members were digging in.
In a clear reference to the two other parties in Government, long-serving Fine Gael TD Michael Creed told the meeting that the party should not take lectures from “those who crashed the economy and are still on probation".
Others stressed that tax is "Fine Gael policy territory" with Carlow-Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan and Tipperary senator Garret Ahearn urging colleagues not to heed the growing Fianna Fáil disquiet. Instead, they said the party should push for larger tax cuts.
Despite frayed relations, a usually cautious Simon Coveney went on radio on Thursday morning to defend his three colleagues and back their calls to put more back into the pockets of middle-income earners through tax measures.
“I don't think there was an intention to upset anyone. It was an opinion piece. Three junior ministers were outlining again, a policy which I support, which is that when the economy is growing, we should give to, what many people call, the squeezed middle," he told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.
"Different parties have different priorities in Government and at different times, those priorities get to appear in newspapers and opinion pieces and so on," Mr Coveney. The strong inference being that this is all part of the normal pre-budget cycle in which parties and politicians will come to the table with a myriad of requests.
But the veil of this being a purely budget-related spat was lifted a few hours later when Fianna Fáil's John McGuinness, known for his straight-talking approach, got to the nub of what the latest tensions are really about.
"Remember this is an election that's being fought too, because we're in the third year [of Government], they're focusing on next year's local and European elections," he said of Fine Gael.
"They have a record to stand on. But do the people believe in that record, have they benefited by that record? And that's what this budget is about. The campaign has started," he told the Claire Byrne show.
While the Green Party will be able to point to carbon budgets and other environmental policies progressed, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will have a much more difficult time differentiating themselves when they come before an electorate who, judging by the polls, want change.
To set themselves apart, both parties know that it will be critical to deliver items in this budget and the next. That is what this first petty squabble has been about and we are likely to see a good few more ahead of budget day.