The DUP’s export of its arguably most high profile MLA in the constituency, Education Minister Peter Weir, could prove a canny enough move.
With the reduction to five seats the party was unlikely to retain three MLAs but Weir's willing departure to neighbouring Strangford should leave the field clear here for Gordon Dunne and Alex Easton.
In one of the province’s more predictable contests, former Alliance Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry is all but assured of election along with Ulster Unionist Alan Chambers and Green Party leader Steven Agnew who should be safe in the other, final two.
Alliance is giving up any prospect of a second seat, however, despite North Down being one of their most natural territories, with candidate Andrew Muir - who came seventh in the last Assembly race 10 months ago - falling off the ticket.
Chambers is a well-established former independent unionist councillor in the constituency from the early 1990s but his running mate, Traditional Unionist Voice defector William Cudworth, appears unlikely to double up the seats tally for the UUP.
The two nationalist candidates, Kieran Maxwell of Sinn Fein and the SDLP’s Caoímhe McNeill can only seek to improve their party’s respective vote-shares of 1 pc and 1.3pc respectively last time.