Liberal Democrats celebrated a landslide council by-election gain from Tories but crashed to disastrous defeat by Labour in a second contest.
Their candidate Nick Gregory scored a shock victory at Fareham Borough's West ward on a huge swing since May's main polls which were on the same day as the general election.
But this much-needed boost to party morale was blunted by Labour's triumph at Bewsey and Whitecross, Warrington Borough, where Jeff Richards gained the seat with more than 70% of the vote.
This result, unlike that at Fareham, had been expected after Labour comfortably won another ward seat in May.
Lib Dems will be concerned that their one remaining councillor there is up for election next year, when Labour needs just one gain to take overall control of the council.
This is the latest of a run of poor Liberal Democrat results in urban areas of the North West, where a new year parliamentary election looms at Oldham East and Saddleworth.
Unlike the other two major parties, Tories can find no crumbs of comfort.
Bewsey and Whitecross, where they took barely 7%, is in marginal Warrington South constituency, which they gained in the general election.
Fareham Borough - Fareham West: Lib Dem 933, C 687, Lab 124, Ukip 93, Green 35. (May 2010 - C 2526, Lib Dem 858, Lab 423, Ukip 283). Lib Dem gain from C. Swing 26.9% C to Lib Dem.
Warrington Borough - Bewsey and Whitecross: Lab 1032, Lib Dem 221, C 118, Green 47, Ind 33. (May 2010 - Lab 2132, Lib Dem 1276, C 612). Lab gain from Lib Dem. Swing 17.3% Lib Dem to Lab.