What a difference half a year makes -- or more precisely, 7½ months.
They were days of plenty last June and July for the Democratic Party -- plenty of prospective presidential candidates, that is.
Then, there were at least 20 who all qualified for last summer's mega-debates in which the field of candidates was so large that the first two Democratic debates had to be played out over two nights each.
Ten candidates per evening enlivened the summer TV doldrums on June 26 and 27 from Miami on NBC, and on July 30 and 31 from Detroit on CNN. After that, the winnowing began.
Never again would we have these two-night epics. Now we are down to a likely six candidates in one two-hour debate -- at least as of Tuesday.
As of the writing of this TV Blog, the debaters who appear to have qualified to participate in this week's Democratic Debate Wednesday night (Feb. 19) in Las Vegas are Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
The above photo, taken at the last debate on NBC last November in Atlanta, was easy to crop down to those five debaters since they were all bunched together on stage that evening at the venue known as the Tyler Perry Studios.
Missing from the photo, and reportedly qualifying for the debate stage this week in Las Vegas: Michael Bloomberg, according to various news reports on Monday and Tuesday. This will be his first debate appearance.
Compared to the other qualifiers, Bloomberg is an untested rookie when it comes to national televised political debates of any kind.
That's one reason why his participation in the debate is emerging in the days leading up to this week's debate as the event's main talking point and news hook. Another reason is that he is seen now as a formidable, deep-pocketed, dark-horse challenger whose profile is on the rise and posing a threat to the frontrunners.
Who are the frontrunners? Well, you might say that all five of the qualifiers are frontrunners now, more or less, since they have survived this long into the Democratic winnowing process that has dashed the hopes of one or two dozen hopefuls already.
By definition, Sanders is the actual frontrunner, having come out on top in the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.
The five surviving candidates have thus far faced off against each other (and all of those who have since dropped out of the campaign) in eight debates since last June. Their experience might give all of them an edge over Bloomberg.
This week's debate will be seen live on NBC starting at 9 p.m. Eastern. It is a joint production of NBC News and The Nevada Independent, a website for Nevada state news (thenevadaindependent.com). The Nevada Democratic Caucus is scheduled for this Saturday in the Silver State.
The debate will have five moderators: Lester Holt, Chuck Todd and Hallie Jackson from NBC News, Vanessa Hauc from Noticias Telemundo (owned by NBC Universal) and Jon Ralston from The Nevada Independent.