By Daniel Hewitt, Political Correspondent
In a region of the country where Labour still dominates town hall politics, it is inevitable that the narrative of local elections here will focus on their performance more than any other party.
Trafford remains the last bastion of Conservatism in a surrounding sea of red.
Defeat after devastating local election defeat has forced The Liberal Democrats into a retreat north. South Lakeland, Farron Country, is the only council they control - one of only eight in the country.
The rest is left to Labour. 22 councils. Labour's to rule, Labour's to lose.
Jeremy Corbyn's party holds 70% of the seats up for grabs on May 5th. The last time the majority of those same seats were contested was 2012 - a year Labour successfully took advantage of an unpopular Conservative austerity agenda and widespread public anger towards Nick Clegg's Lib Dems, then in coalition with the Conservatives.
Four years ago Ed Miliband's Labour won 158 wards and gained seats on every council, as the Lib Dems lost a fifth of their councillors in the North West. In Manchester it was wiped out altogether.
Like 2012, these local contests come at a time in the election cycle when the governing party is traditionally at its most vulnerable at the ballot box. This time, Labour will look to take advantage of a Conservative party deeply divided over Europe and a Conservative government suffering from a series of embarrassing row backs - most notably the u-turn over welfare cuts which triggered the damning resignation of Minister Iain Duncan-Smith.
The sheer scale of that 2012 performance leaves Labour will very little to go at. It no longer has a sizeable chunk of Liberal Democrat seats to get its teeth into, and even fewer Tories to target.
Trafford Council would be an impressive scalp, but the Tories will fight hard to maintain their solitary stronghold. Pendle and Stockport, both currently under no overall control, are also on Labour's hit-list, but that's pretty much it.
That lack of sizeable targets poses a big problem for Jeremy Corbyn. He has little to gain from this election, and much to lose, in every sense. Win Trafford, Pendle and Stockport and it's a good night. Yet anything less, and those questions already being asked of him - his ability to win seats in Tory areas, to convince voters beyond his Labour core - will amplify.
Labour though is far from short of its own problems. The very public clash between Labour MP John Mann and former Labour Mayor of London Ken Livingstone today shows the toxic split in the party over allegations of antisemitism. Mr Livingstone's subsequent suspension came after Mr Corbyn was criticised for not suspending Bradford West MP Naz Shah sooner for alleged antisemitic remarks.
Jeremy Corbyn has also failed to make any real impression on the the national opinion polls, where in many cases his party still trail the Conservatives. There are some MPs who will privately welcome the trouble their leader is facing right now - a poor local election performance is what they need to topple him.
Twelve months on from the General Election, there is still much soul-searching and much disagreement within the Labour Party as to how it lost so emphatically.
Most North West Labour MPs will tell you it was the economy - put simply the party did not present itself as a competent alternative. Their solution would've been a move to the right with the election of a more business-friendly leader, to occupy and dominate the centre ground of British politics as Tony Blair did so successfully.The membership though thought very differently. Yes, the party didn't present itself as a viable alternative, but that's because it was too much like the Tories, it wasn't left wing enough, and we all know what happened next.
Whatever the reasons for Labour's defeat, the fact remains it lost because it failed to win those crucial marginal two-way fights with the Conservatives - seats like Bury North, Warrington South, Bolton West.
Tony Blair won elections by turning blue seats red. Next Thursday marks Jeremy Corbyn's first test to see if he can do the same, but without the wiggle room enjoyed by Ed Miliband.
Politics is about progress. A leader stays as leader so long as they are always taking their party to a better place, to a winning place. But in the North West at least, when it comes to local politics, Labour is already at that place. There is very little left for Jeremy Corbyn to climb, and a very long way to fall.
MAIN CONSERVATIVE TARGETS:
ROSSENDALE – TO TAKE OVERALL CONTROL
WEST LANCASHIRE – TO TAKE OVERALL CONTROL
MAIN LABOUR TARGETS:
PENDLE – TO BECOME LARGEST PARTY
STOCKPORT – TO AT LEAST BECOME LARGEST PARTY
TRAFFORD – TO TAKE OUT OF CONSERVATIVE OVERALL CONTROL
MAIN LIB DEM TARGETS:
STOCKPORT – TO TAKE OVERALL CONTROL