Timo Glock gave the Japanese crowd what it wanted - and Toyota some useful headline material - by snatching the fastest time in the second free practice session of the opening day at Fuji.
The German had spent the earlier 90-minute session finding his bearings after missing last year's Japanese Grand Prix because of GP2 commitments, but bounced to the head of the timesheets in the afternoon, edging both Singapore race winner Fernando Alonso and world championship leader Lewis Hamilton by less than a tenth of a second.
Making the most of the team's decision to swap his V8 for a fresh unit under the 2008 'joker' rules, Glock clocked a 1min 18.383secs effort to top Alonso's 1min 18.426secs and Hamilton's 1min 18.463secs marks. Of course, it remains unclear as to exactly what gameplan each team was following but, with the first 17 runners within a second of the pace, it is unlikely that Toyota had opted to run extremely light in order to claim a little 'hometown' glory.
Behind Hamilton, who had set the pace in the morning session with the only lap under 1min 19secs, came title rival Massa and Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, although the pair were split by a couple of tenths despite times not tumbling as many had predicted. Hamilton, meanwhile, reported that he and McLaren had found a near-perfect balance straight away and was expecting more on Saturday.
Red Bull's Mark Webber and Williams' Kazuki Nakajima filled the next two places with Sebastian Vettel, despite some hydraulic issues, Heikki Kovalainen and the second Toyota of Jarno Trulli rounded out the top ten, ahead of Robert Kubica, Nelson Piquet Jr and Nico Rosberg, although everyone down to an oversteering David Coulthard in 17th could claim to be within touching distance of Glock.
Only Giancarlo Fisichella, Nick Heidfeld - surprisingly - and Jenson Button fell outside the one-second bracket, with the Briton only just avoiding slipping back into the 1min 20s.
Heidfeld struggled throughout the day, suffering a rare spin as he struggled for the right balance in the morning, and then suffering minor technical problems after lunch as the brake balance adjuster came loose in the cockpit and then the hydraulic alarm went off. Button, meanwhile, reported a lack of feeling on new rubber, explaining the seven-tenths gap to 15th-placed Honda team-mate Rubens Barrichello.