Northern Rock is different. It is, well, Northern, run from Newcastle, more than twice as far as Birmingham from the City of London.
That may help it managers get on with things, without being distracted by casual takeover talk. Possibly City head-hunters leave their staff alone more than they would if they were within walking distance in the Square Mile.
So Northern Rock sticks to its last. It remains overwhelmingly a mortgage bank. It doesn't chase after current accounts, let alone the fancy treasury adventures that nearly brought down Abbey National.
It does make commercial loans, but it can live without them - and last year it did so "as a result of maintaining our emphasis on quality rather than volume". Its net commercial lending fell to £5 million out of a total of £14.6 billion.
It goes in for unsecured lending, too, but scaled it back last year "in line with the number of borrowers who satisfy our credit score and our risk appetite".
That did not prevent an increase in "together" lending.
Rivals shake their heads at this scheme whereby Northern offers unsecured loans to home-buyers on top of their mortgages, but at the same rate. The total can come to more than the value of the home - in effect a 100 per cent-plus loan.
But this package has been running for years now, still without the predicted mishap. Northern says it makes sense to lend unsecured to people it knows through their mortgage application rather than someone coming in off the street for a car loan.
It pays, too - because a "together" mortgage comes with a premium interest rate. Northern has boosted its margins, too, with equity release mortgages for the over-60s and buy-to-let loans for private investors.
These can be controversial. Equity release carries a risk to the lender's reputation as well as to an ill-advised borrower's prosperity - witness a well-publicised blast in "Which?" magazine. And Barclays backed right away from buyto-let last year.
Yet so far this policy of devising distinctive mortgage packages that command higher margins has worked for Northern Rock. They accounted for 37 per cent of its net residential lending last year and 28.5 per cent of its mortgage balances.
They help explain why a seemingly staid Tyneside mortgage bank delivers a 21 per cent return on equity with the stated intention of doing more or less that year after year.
We shall see shortly if the high street banks have done as well.
To judge from the Bank of England's minutes, the nine members of its interest-setting committee got through their meeting this month without uttering a word about the the malaise afflicting British industry and only a passing reference to the explosion in gas prices which has made it worse.
It is an issue that pulls two ways. Industry needs lower interest rates (and a less over-priced pound), while the prospect of gas costing 60 per cent more this year than last is plainly inflationary.
That is very difficult. But worth discussing, surely. ..SUPL: