He couldn't quite bring himself to utter the words 'Thames estuary' or 'Boris Island'.
But George Osborne has done enough in his budget statement to ensure that the idea of a new hub airport in the south east has not been completely grounded. Indeed, there are some who believe he has engineered a situation that will encourage proponents of such schemes rather than deter them.
The telling phrase he used was that the government intended to 'explore all the options.' Had he wanted to sound the death knell for either Boris Island or Lord Foster's £50bn vision, he could have said so - just like he did by ruling out any further consideration of Heathrow.
A flat denial could have ended the persistent speculation and would have given some solace to the county's MPs who are deeply hostile to the idea and fear that the government is not helping their re-election prospects.
Several have suggested that George Osborne is merely trying to help his friend Boris as he seeks to secure another term as Mayor of London.
Others have gone further with theories that should Boris return to the House of Commons as an MP, he will be joining forces with Osborne when he takes a tilt at the leadership.
That might be a motive but I am not wholly convinced. If you polled Londoners on the issues they have most concerns about, I'm not sure you'd find aviation high on that list (except in west London). Tube fares perhaps.
I suspect the government doesn't really know whether it wants to see a new airport off the north Kent coast.
But it's worth reading the National Infrastructure Plan published by the Treasury.
It notes how, since 2005, the performance trends on airports in relation to capacity, access and availibility - as well as service quality and reliability - have all gone down. For other transport modes, they have either stayed the same or improved.
That is not an argument for Boris Island or Lord Foster's scheme but as Mr Osborne said, the UK risks falling behind countries like China and Brazil who are building infrastructure schemes at a lick.
Precisely the kind of point that Boris has been making.
There was a meeting of KCC's personnel committee on Monday at the highly unusual hour of 5.30pm. I cannot tell you what was discussed as there was no advance agendas or papers - as there normally would under Access to Information rules - as it was an "emergency" meeting, meaning such rules can be bypassed.
Still, let's speculate about what might have been discussed behind closed doors. If recent events are a guide, some might think the councillors summonsed to attend were discussing the way the authority might be run in future and the option of doing without a managing director.
We may have to wait a little while for this to be confirmed but it may not be long. Meanwhile, KCC's managing director Katherine Kerswell "is and remains" in her post even though not many people have seen her around County Hall in recent weeks.