Protesters hurled shoes and eggs at the motorcade of Hassan Rouhani yesterday (Saturday) as the Iranian president arrived home to a mixed reception from a landmark visit to the United Nations, which concluded with a phone call with Barack Obama.
Hardliners opposed to any contact with Washington made their objections clear outside Tehran's Mehrabad airport, as several dozen protesters chanted "Death to America" and tried to block Rouhani's progress, banging on the side of his vehicle.
The semi-official Mehr news agency reported that at least one demonstrator hurled a shoe - a common gesture of contempt in the Middle East - in the direction of Rouhani as he stood up through his vehicle's sunroof.
Other witnesses said eggs and stones were thrown at his limousine. "Dialogue with Satan is not 'hope and prudence'," some chanted, using a Rouhani slogan from the June election.
His supporters, however, were present in greater numbers and greeted his return from New York with cheers and placards thanking him for seeking peace instead of confrontation.
One banner read: "Yes to peace, no to war." Mr Rouhani and the US president spoke for 15 minutes on Friday afternoon as the Iranian was being driven to Kennedy airport before his departure.
White House officials said that Mr Obama congratulated Mr Rouhani on his election victory.
The tone was "cordial", even ending with the Iranian president saying a "have a nice day".
Apart from the kind words, the Iranian entourage returned home with a gift from the American government: a 7th century BC ceremonial drinking vessel that had been in New York since 2003, when an art dealer smuggled it into the country from Iran.
It depicts a griffin, a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.
It was the first direct contact between the two countries' leaders since the 1979 Islamic revolution against the Shah, which led to a hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran.
Diplomatic relations were severed a year later.
Though an anticipated handshake between Mr Obama and Mr Rouhani at UN headquarters did not take place, the conversation signalled a striking shift in tone between the countries.
Mr Rouhani now faces the challenge of trying to unite his people behind his diplomatic charm offensive, which is designed to ease crippling sanctions imposed over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.
The polarised reactions upon his return hinted at the challenge he faces in getting hardliners, especially in the powerful security establishment, behind his conciliatory policies.
However, he was boosted by a positive reaction from the commander of the Quds force, the covert operations unit of the elite Revolutionary Guards. General Qassem Suleimani said the attention lavished on Mr Rouhani during his four-day visit to New York was a vindication of Iran's tough defence policy. "The respect shown by the world to President Rouhani is the fruit of the nation's resistance," he was quoted as saying.
Mr Rouhani's diplomatic efforts appear to have the critical backing, for now, of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Iranian currency, the rial, climbed against the dollar on the open market by about two% following the landmark phone call.
There were also signs of growing confidence among the business community. Javad, the manager of a large private shipping company just off Tehran's Revolution Square said that the thaw had had an immediate effect.
"The American sanctions have made work very quiet for us for nearly two years," he explained.
"Since Rouhani was elected the phones have been ringing non-stop. Oil companies and brokers are calling us to find out what their competition is doing."
Throughout this year and last year the US and the EU have placed banking and oil sanctions on Iran that amount to the most stringent economic blockade of any country in world history.
Crude exports have been cut by more than half, and the value of the rial has fell by two thirds.
A freeze on the banking sector has also left cash reserves out of reach, while a reliance on imported goods has inflated prices.
But the electoral victory of Mr Rouhani has brought some hope to millions of Iranians that the economy can return to the so-called "golden years" that preceded Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose policies are regarded as disastrous.
"We have a new captain," joked Javad. "Our old clients from Europe expect the sanctions will be lifted.
They want to come back. I think a few may even cross America's red-lines before sanctions are lifted."
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an analyst at a reform-minded Tehran think tank said that many foreign retailers operating in Iran, including LG and Sony, were recording higher sales.
"The psychology is changing," he said. "Despite the sanctions, Iranians … have money but they have not been spending because the market has been too uncertain.
Now they are feeling more confident," he said. Valiollah Seif, the new governor of Iran's central bank, told reporters this week that "optimism and psychological effects" were responsible for recent gains made by the currency.
The new administration knows that the atmosphere of cautious optimism surrounding the election Rouhani's "Government of Hope and Prudence" will only take Iran so far.
The solution to the structural economic problems - a $23 billion (pounds 14.3bn) deficit, 44% year-on-year inflation, rising unemployment and deep recession - hinges on the new president's ability to cut a deal with the Americans for sanctions relief in exchange for greater transparency over the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear programme.
For the first time in about 20 years Iran's president has the backing of both reformist and conservative elites.
This has afforded Mr Rouhani the latitude to negotiate a deal with the West without it being derailed by his hardliners, who have had their wings clipped since the election.
But it is unclear how far he will be allowed to go. The parliamentary approval of experienced mandarins he appointed to his cabinet, as well as a thawing in US rhetoric on Iran, gave Mr Rouhani the confidence to forecast a deal would be done in three months' time.
His speech to the UN General Assembly, however, disappointed some in Iran for not being conciliatory enough.
His spent the first two thirds of the speech reminding the US and Israel of past sins, including the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, and the sanctions.
"These sanctions are violent, pure and simple," he said. "It is not the states and the political elite that are targeted, but rather, it is the common people who are victimised by these sanctions."