This merge replication error: The merge process could not connect to the Publisher ‘Server:database’ is so misleading

We have a merge topology in place with pull subscriptions, this is the merge agent runs at the subscribers.
One of our subscriptions in had the error that the merge process couldn’t find the server. The server was there and the ping was fine, also the Replication Monitor was able to register the error with the x mark.

The details of the ertor are as follows:

Command attempted:

{call sp_MSensure_single_instance (N’Merge Agent Name’, 4)}

Error messages:

The merge process could not connect to the Publisher ‘Server:database’. Check to ensure that the server is running. (Source: MSSQL_REPL, Error number: MSSQL_REPL-2147199368)
Get help: http://help/MSSQL_REPL-2147199368

Another merge agent for the subscription(s) is running or the server is working on a previous request by the same agent. (Source: MSSQLServer, Error number: 21036)
Get help: http://help/21036

Our error was due to the second cause. It seems the subscriber had lost power while replicating, and any replication after that could not acquire a lock for the merge agent. We restarted the subscriber machine, reinitialized the subscription, with no luck. Only when we dropped the subscription and recreated it again the subscriber was able to run the replication agent again. Just a curious note for the future as this error is not well documented. The only MSDN forum thread that deals with is is still unanswered here…

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