As the marathon testimony of Hillary Rodham Clinton before the House Select Committee on Benghazi got underway on Thursday morning, it was a strikingly different scene from her testimony almost three years ago on the same subject before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Back then, she was a sitting secretary of state, making one of her last public appearances while holding that office. On Thursday, she came before the House panel as a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, whose campaign has stumbled because of the controversy over the fact that she was using a private e-mail account, rather than a government one, while she was at the State Department. That revelation came to light because of the House panel's investigation.

When she testified before the Senate committee, her longtime confidant and top aide Cheryl Mills was the figure over her right shoulder. Mills was there in the front row on Thursday as well, but the two figures flanking Clinton were her private attorneys: Williams and Connolly partners David Kendall and Katherine M. Turner.

Their presence was a reminder that there is also legal question hanging over Clinton's private e-mail account and server -- a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into whether national security may have been compromised. Indeed, the existence of a thumb drive containing Clinton's e-mails -- which was stored in a State Department-provided safe in Turner's office -- was what triggered the investigation, after inspectors general for the department and the intelligence community became concerned about it.

In her earlier appearance, Clinton had worn thick glasses, which revealed that she was still suffering the after-effects of a fall. And her testimony at times turned emotional.

Her demeanor in her appearance Thursday was tight-lipped and steady, at least at the outset.

She took notes during the opening statement by panel Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and stopped to look directly at him when he addressed her directly. She showed no apparent anger or skepticism about Gowdy's assurances that the panel was neutral.

Clinton's testimony on Thursday is in the elegant Colonial Revival-style hearing room where she had one of her earliest political triumphs in Washington. Back in 1993, the then-first lady had gone before the House Ways and Means Committee to lay out her vision for transforming the nation's health care system.

"Few women in American public life have so publicly and so seamlessly incorporated the disarming charm once called "feminine" with the steely confidence associated with powerful and persuasive men," the New York Times's Tamar Lewin wrote at the time.

Political realities, however, would play out differently. That health care effort ultimately foundered, and was one reason that her husband Bill Clinton's party lost its majority in the midterm elections the following year. Hillary Clinton's popularity took a hit as well.

By now, Clinton surely knows that questions will continue -- and that not even the most thorough of congressional hearings can put them to rest.

Here's The Post's story from 1993: