If there was a pre-debate strategy that worked well it was the decision to keep Hillary Clinton off the trail, not just to practice, but to rest up after her recent health issues. Mrs Clinton looked rested and was on the attack throughout the 90 minutes.
Donald Trump missed opportunities and left much on the table in terms of attacking his opponent, never mentioning the Clinton Foundation and he got too defensive on issues like taxes returns and Iraq.
The questions seemed to focus on issues related to Mr. Trump, but he looked strident and lacked a sense of humor, almost Al Gore like in his on camera reactions.
On the other hand Mr. Trump didn't make any major mistakes and made it through 90 minutes against an experienced office holder with a long DC pedigree. He was able to point out how long Mrs. Clinton has been in government for those who want change this year.
The VP debate is next but that will produce little new and the attention will shift to the final two Presidential debates in October. Governor Pence is quick on his feet though and could be an effective attack dog, making some of the points Mr. Trump didn't.
It's still a race, but Mr. Trump clearly missed some openings last night. However history notes cases of a candidate struggling in the first debate and coming on strong later and winning the election (Reagan in '83 and Obama in '12).