It was about half past four on Tuesday afternoon when a Welsh news reporter called me, asking for comment around news that had just broken. Having spent the previous hour gardening, I had no idea what he was talking about.

The Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, he said, were in talks for a co-operation agreement in the Senedd. Really? Then I checked. And it was true. My comment was simple: I was surprised.

In retrospect, though, I’m not quite sure why. Disraeli’s famous maxim that our neighbours dislike coalitions has never applied to the Welsh, particularly in an era of devolved politics that has produced no majority governments.

Although this co-operation agreement is not a formal coalition, of course; in fact, we know very little about it at all. Three paragraphs of progressive rhetoric was splashed over the Welsh Government website: both parties are “exploring ways of building a more equal, just and democratic nation for all”.

Whatever comes of this “ambitious” deal, it was inevitable that Mark Drakeford would need support to govern after the Senedd election in May.

Winning 30 seats, a working majority, is an astounding achievement for a party that has been in power for more than two decades, but Welsh Labour cannot go it alone with great confidence.

Since 1999, the party has instigated formal power-sharing arrangements with the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru, in addition to confidence-and-supply deals to pass legislation and also agreements to deliver Welsh budgets.

'Co-operation' is to be interpreted quite widely. It might be informal on specific policy areas. But it could also be more watertight, as with the ‘Compact’ agreement that was signed by Carwyn Jones and Leanne Wood after the 2016 election.

If a similar deal was repeated, it could give Plaid Cymru greater influence to push forward policies that look something like their manifesto commitments. Though, that may give Welsh nationalists greater influence than their electoral mandate warrants.

Mark Drakeford and Adam Price have their own cards to play. But in the end there is always one leader that has the upper hand – take a guess who.

Indeed, how any deal is structured and shaped is still being worked out; Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru will negotiate firmly as they have before, I am sure, and both have things to lose. But it is nationalists who are between a rock and a hard place.

In short: they’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

Does Adam Price have no interest in delivering curbs on second homes, stronger social care policy, and an expanded Senedd? That is what some may ask if he refuses to co-operate, particularly when it comes to parliamentary reform.

It is a subject that has gripped commentators and sympathetic backbenchers this week, since a super-majority of 40 members is needed to push through a bigger Welsh Parliament. And especially after the Boundary Commission recently unveiled proposals that would mean Wales would send eight fewer MPs to London after the 2024 election.

The “significant tide” in support for a bigger Welsh Parliament, identified by the First Minister in May, is rising.

On the other hand, we could ask why Plaid Cymru, as a supposed alternate party of government, thinks it can operate effectively over the next few years when it is tied to Welsh Labour, which it is supposed to be challenging.

Some nationalists are unhappy. They are, bluntly, fed up with being Labour’s poodle. Alas, those people are yet to realise that this is the party’s role in modern Wales.

As I have repeatedly argued in my columns, to great upset, Plaid Cymru are little more than a pressure group. That is nothing to be embarrassed about.

Instead, it indicates the intellectual and cultural power of a movement that has been incredibly effective throughout modern history in influencing Welsh Labour’s nation-building programme: whether by triggering knee-jerk reactions from jaded ministers in Cardiff and London or by appealing to the soft-nationalists that now fill the First Minister’s party to the brim.

And, once again, Welsh Labour needs their help. A formal, secure, and relatively long-term deal – perhaps covering the first half of this parliamentary term – would give the Government security that it can deliver on its policies, big or small, with little difficulty.

The prospect of Andrew RT Davies shouting ‘Stitch-up!’ on the floor of the Senedd will be of little concern. For the First Minister, this is business. And, because of the parliamentary arithmetic in Cardiff Bay, Plaid Cymru has its part to play if Mark Drakeford is to deliver.

Delivery. It’s a word we keep hearing from the Welsh Government. So that’s what we must keep in mind when we see any consequential action or manoeuvring from the First Minister in the coming months.

His political ascent is nearing its peak – to heights which no political leader in devolved Wales has gone before. And not since 1945 has there been an opportunity to deliver economic, constitutional, and social reform on a monumental scale.

Bar the continuing tussles over devolved powers, never have Welsh leaders had the chance to control their nation's destiny like now, either.

Drakeford realises this. He is, unlike most of the Left, a pragmatist. So, to his credit, is Adam Price: a man who doesn't want to sit on the sidelines as the 'third leader' in the Senedd.

Both are socialists, intellectuals and policy-focused. To them, this deal undoubtedly makes sense and the timing is right.

For Price, there is probably some hope to get significant (and unrealistic) leverage on Welsh Government powers as Scotland shakes in its constitutional cage; for Drakeford, he needs to climb obstacles in parliament if he wants to shape Wales before he retires in 2024.

For all the uncertainties around the agreement, one thing is clear: if the deal is agreed, in whatever form, the credit won’t be given to Welsh nationalists.

For as much as they will hope it demonstrates their strong influence, a capability to govern and the need for a left-of-centre independent state, Mark Drakeford will not allow the narrative to be written like that.

To build a “more equal, just and democratic nation” for Wales might be the shared objective, but electors will not remember any partnership as a joint venture.

If history is anything to go by, it will be Welsh Labour that reaps the rewards – perhaps for a bigger Senedd, an economy that works for young people and developments around second homes and social policy. All key parts of the Drakeford Legacy Project.

By the time the next election comes around, nationalists may ask whether any deal was worth the Price.