Back in 1998, a now almost-forgotten former Labour cabinet minister coined the phrase: "Devolution is a process, not an event."
They were in fact the words of Ron Davies, the architect of the Welsh Assembly who is now primarily remembered for his 'moment of madness' on Clapham Common and subsequent 'badger-watching' escapades near the M4.
But as the repercussions of New Labour's devolution reforms of the late 1990s continue to reverberate around the body politic, it is clearer than ever that Mr Davies was spot-on in his analysis.
Just as the former Cabinet secretary Gus O'Donnell predicted in his series of 'exit interviews' before retiring last month, the future of the Union has suddenly become one of the hottest of political hot potatoes.
The extent of the Prime Minister's gamble in seeking to strong-arm the Scottish government into holding a straight yes-no vote on independence within the next 18 months should not be underestimated.
A less risky strategy would surely have been for the Westminster government to carry on doing what it has been doing to the Scots for the past 30 years, namely try to buy them off.
The carrot on this occasion would not have been money in the form of the highly-advantageous Barnett Formula of public spending, but rather the promise of more powers – or “devo max” as it is termed.
By handing significant financial autonomy and accountability to the Scottish government while allowing it to remain in the UK, the government would surely have satisfied all but a minority of pro-independence diehards.
But Mr Cameron appears to have eschewed that option in what appears to be an all-out bid to destroy the Scottish Nationalist First Minister Alex Salmond and kill the idea of independence stone dead for a generation or more.
His attempt to set the timetable for the referendum as well as fixing the question is designed to pitchfork the Scots into an early vote in the hope that they will reject independence.
But will it actually have the opposite effect? Will the Scots simply see it as yet more unwanted meddling in their affairs by a distant English premier whose party enjoys so little support north of the border it nearly decided to change its name?
If so, then Mr Cameron is going to look remarkably stupid before this game of political chess is played out. So stupid, in fact, that it could be he, rather than Mr Salmond, who finds himself out of a job.
The future constitutional position of Scotland may seem like a rather arid subject to those of us south of the border, but for the North-East, it could have some rather interesting political repercussions to say the least.
For starters, an independent Scotland would be more likely to compete aggressively against the Northern English regions for inward investment – an issue that has reared its head from time to time even within the existing Union.
The wider implications, though, would be in the change in political balance within England and the impact that this would have on traditionally Labour-supporting areas.
The secession of the Scots would mortally Labour south of the border, ending any prospect of it holding power alone at Westminster again and permanently shifting the centre of political gravity to the right.
The Labour-supporting regions of the North - whose political cultures in fact have more in common with the Scots than with the Southern English – may well then find themselves even more marginalised by the Westminster Parliament.
This, in turn, might well lead to a revival of interest in the idea of devolution within England, perhaps within a pan-Northern context this time round rather than individual assemblies for the North-East, North-West and Yorkshire.
My guess is that if Mr Cameron’s gamble does backfire, and the Scots ultimately vote for independence, it won’t be too many years before we see calls for some sort of 'Council of the North' encompassing all three regions.
Fanciful? Well, maybe. But devolution is, after all, a process, not an event.