The Labour leader had no convincing riposte to Cameron's claim that he was "an arsonist" who "complains that the fire brigade aren't putting the fires out fast enough".
Miliband must address deeper public grievances if banking, benefits and other reforms Labour announces this month are to even get a hearing.
It would look presumptive to start naming his cabinet before the election and would put him under pressure to guarantee others their jobs.
The Labour leader argued convincingly that the cost-of-living crisis is the direct result of the deep structural faults in the economy.
In another no-notes speech, the Labour leader will promise to introduce a cap on banks' market share and to create two new challenger banks.
The introduction of a one-member-one-vote system would dramatically reduce the disproportionate power wielded by MPs.
By promising fundamental changes to the economy, the Labour leader can carve out a new coalition which quietly puts to bed the old battle lines of the 1980s.
The "truce" between the two leaders lasted just a week as Cameron declared that Miliband had "all the moral authority of the Reverend Flowers".
The Labour leader reaches beyond his party's core vote and acknowledges that the living standards crisis began before the coalition.
Miliband and Clegg are ready to sign up to three debates over three weeks. They say Cameron is running scared.