The shadow deputy prime minister could promise nothing more than a review of local government finance, leaving his party lagging behind both its rivals.
The Liberal Democrats have promised to abolish council tax and replace it with a local income tax, while Labour announced the return of capping for even the best councils, to the dismay of many in local government.
Mr Davies claimed council taxes were up by 70% under prime minister Tony Blair because the government had fixed and fiddled on a scale not seen since Robert Maxwell.
Mr Davis also criticised local income tax, saying it would cost the typical family £600 extra a year and promised: 'We will deliver something better.'
But he could only add: 'That is why I am announcing today a major review of local government finance to give councils the freedom to spend money.'
A Tory government would also get politics out of public services, setting the rules while allowing the professionals to get on with the job, he said.
And, accusing deputy prime minister John Prescott of effectively destroying the right-to-buy in London, Mr Davis pledged it would be reinstated in the capital.