MSPS were really quite excited last week to be taking part in a largely symbolic vote with an entirely predictable outcome.

For the record, parliament backed staying in the EU by a margin of 106 to eight after a debate every bit as one-sided as it sounds.

But at least it was a debate and a vote. The genuine enthusiasm of MSPs owed as much to the glacially slow start to the new Holyrood session as it did to the passions inflamed by the EU referendum.

There will be more signs of life this week, however.

Most visibly, Nicola Sturgeon will face her first First Minister's Questions of the new term on Thursday.

More importantly, in terms of how parliament operates over the coming five years, we can expect to learn the make-up of the new committees.

For the past three weeks a series of overlapping, behind-closed-doors negotiations have been taking place to decide the new structure.

How many committees should there be and what subject should they cover? How many MSPs should sit on each committee? Who should convene them? Which parties should be represented?

These are critical questions if the government is to face proper scrutiny and, for all the gripes about the parliament's sluggish start, this is one area where it is surely worth taking time to come up with the right answers.

The signs so far are encouraging.

In the last parliament, the committees - once described as the 'jewel in the crown' of the Holyrood system - became painfully discredited.

Far from holding government to account, the SNP used its in-built committee majorities to protect ministers. Critical reports were watered down, potentially embarrassing inquiries blocked and 'helpful' questions asked.

It was a serious failing and the only straw to clutch at in the SNP's defence was that any other party, in the same position, would probably have done the same.

The new parliament will different.

SNP chiefs have accepted that, without a majority in the chamber, they will no longer have a majority on each of the committees. They will also have far fewer conveners, limiting their ability to set the committee agendas and shape their work programmes.

Other, more mundane issues are also being addressed.

It was widely felt there were too many committees - there were getting on for 20 - in the last parliament. They were also too big, with the number of MSPs around the table sometimes undermining their effectiveness and creating knock-on problems with workloads.

So we can expect some committees to be merged and others to be smaller than before.

This doesn't mean negotiations have been simple. The arithmetic is hard to juggle, especially as the Greens, with six MSPs, want representation on most of the committees while the Lib Dems, with five, are more relaxed about having a voice only on some. Labour is reluctant only to have one MSP on some committees. Everyone wants to convene the important ones.

But after separate sets of talks led by the new Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh, and the party business managers, or chief whips, agreement is close.

They meet again today. If a deal can be done, the new Holyrood term will be up and running at last.