The joke may still be on the Australian swimming team's men ahead of the Rio Olympics but Mitch Larkin reckons they are poised to have the last laugh.
Larkin admits he could not help but chuckle when teased by golden girl Emily Seebohm after not one but two women beat him to 2015 Australian Swimmer of the Year despite winning two world titles.
However, champion backstroker Larkin is convinced Australia's men are on the verge of a new golden age ahead of their Olympic qualifying warm-up meet in Sydney.
Larkin will headline a men's field featuring sprint kings James Magnussen and Cameron McEvoy plus young gun Mack Horton at the three-day NSW titles from Friday.
It will be tough to take the limelight away from a women's field featuring dual world champion Seebohm and sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell at their final hit-out ahead of next month's Olympic qualifiers in Adelaide.
But Larkin reckons Australia's men are poised to match their dominant female teammates at the Rio Olympics.
"The men have been a step behind in recent years," Larkin told AAP.
"It's time for the next generation of men to step forward.
"I think they are coming to the pinnacle of their swimming.
"I believe we will soon see the men and women swimming equally well."
Until then, Larkin is resigned to good natured barbs from the women.
Larkin became the first man in 10 years to claim the 100m-200m backstroke double at a world titles in Kazan, Russia last year.
But he was still pipped for Australian Swimmer of the Year by fellow dual world champions Seebohm and Bronte Campbell.
"Emily (Seebohm) joked that it was pretty funny that I won two gold from worlds and I still didn't get Swimmer of the Year," Larkin laughed.
Aussie men have hardly made a splash in the Olympic pool of late.
At London, men won two silver and a medley relay bronze.
The women claimed two bronze, four silver and the team's sole gold.
The gap was worse in Beijing.
The men won four bronze and four silver after Grant Hackett missed a third straight 1,500m freestyle gold.
The women? Four bronze, two silver and six gold.
Larkin knows he must lead by example at Rio.
So far, so good.
He may have missed out on the local gong but last month Larkin became the first Australian to be named FINA Male Swimmer of Year.
"The people who have won it (Swimmer of Year) have had great consistency over the years," Larkin said.
"That is something I look forward to - not just having one great year but backing it up."