She has quickly bounced back into a cabinet-level job after losing her seat in 2015 and then parachuting into a safe constituency a year ago. But instead of the usual parade of lawmakers arriving at her office in quick succession to accept their new roles, things went off script. The move has made it more hard for observers to work out who may be in line for dismissal or a new job.
Initially, she had wanted to revamp health by moving out Jeremy Hunt.
Reshuffle announcements will get underway later on Monday. In both instances May seemed to dissipate any political goodwill she recouped.
New Tory chairman Brandon Lewis said the reshuffle would be like a "breath of fresh air" by the time it is finished.
"That also includes delivering a Government that better reflects the country which it serves". A new mutineer, the seasoned political commentator speculated.
The reshuffle - the biggest of Mrs May's tenure - was prompted by the resignation of Damian Green after he admitted lying over pornography on his office computer.
There was confusion early on over the role of Conservative party chairman, as the official Conservatives' account tweeted that Chris Grayling had been appointed - before the tweet was deleted. Hours late it was revealed that Grayling, rumored for the chop, was keeping his exact same job.
It is open to question whether the Prime Minister will be able to balance factions within the Conservative party. And the underpinning, if driven by a momentous development in British and European history, is the thread that runs through ministerial reshuffles throughout the world.More news: Fusion GPS dossier author 'feared Trump was blackmail target'
More news: Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles: Pick recent playoff experience over a backup QB
More news: Why Reaching A DACA Deal Could Be Tough
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire resigns due to ill health, replaced by Karen Bradley. But she has a perilous few months ahead as Brexit negotiations approach a moment of truth when she must decide how closely she wants Britain's economy to remain aligned to Europe's - and what she is prepared to pay for it.
Making sure the scales didn't tip in favor of either side of Brexit was a handicap.
Former work and pensions minister Esther McVey, who temporarily lost her seat between 2015 and 2017, returns to head the department.
James Cleverly, a prominent backbencher, is the new Tory Party deputy chairman.
Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames joined the calls for a "major improvement" on Twitter.
The health secretary Jeremy Hunt, under pressure over a winter NHS crisis, refused to budge when he was asked to become business secretary, which is effectively a demotion.
Former work and pensions secretary David Gauke has taken over the roles of Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary vacated by Mr Lidington. He will stand in for May at weekly grillings in Parliament and chair key Brexit committees. That weakness was implicitly acknowledged Sunday, when May said that she had abandoned plans for a vote on whether to reverse a ban on the divisive issue of fox hunting.
If this was the prime minister's objective, she failed here too, ignoring some of the party's rising stars such as Tom Tugendhat and Johnny Mercer altogether and moving others from positions where they shone to posts for which they are not obviously qualified.