Bill Shorten's enemies - and he made a few on his journey through the union movement, becoming invested with the prediction that he would be a prime minister one day - used to call him ''Showbag Bill''.
It was said out of the side of the mouth. Plenty of style on the outside, not much substance within.
That old sneer isn't heard much any more. Shorten has come a long way from the union. And besides, he dragged the Australian Workers Union from corruption and near-irrelevancy to the status of an effective powerhouse during his five years as national secretary.
He hasn't yet reached the heights of prime minister, of course, but the question of his substance is about to be tested as never before.
Leading a Labor Party in opposition, fresh from a big defeat, has always been thankless. Even more problematic for Bill Shorten is that he was the public face of the destruction of the party's two most recent Labor prime ministers - Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.
It's heavy baggage.
But he has more than survived the experience. He has won the Labor Party's first experiment with participatory democracy - a combined vote of his parliamentary caucus colleagues and the wider membership of the party. The fact that his victory was assured more by the support of his right-wing parliamentary colleagues than by the grassroots membership, which preferred the Left's Anthony Albanese, will be used against him by Tony Abbott's Coalition government. Nevertheless, he has secured the job that may be no more than an election away from vaulting him to the prime ministership. And time is on his side - he is only 46.
Shorten may have earned his political stripes in the union movement, but he is far from the stereotypical old-style Labor union man.
Well educated and articulate, he has long moved in the sort of business and social circles that raise suspicion among more ideologically driven colleagues.
He was best man, for instance, to John Roskam, of the extremely conservative Institute of Public Affairs. Shorten and Roskam were classmates at Melbourne's Xavier College and, despite one taking to the union movement and Labor politics and the other becoming a board member of the anti-union
HR Nicholls Society and embracing Liberal values, the two remain close.
Shorten's first wife, Debbie Beale, is the daughter of multimillionaire businessman and former Liberal MP Julian Beale. His second wife, Chloe, is the daughter of Australia's Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.
He famously borrowed with a single phone call the private jet of billionaire Dick Pratt to fly to the Tasmanian mining town of Beaconsfield in 2006 when it was learnt that two miners, Brant Webb and Todd Russell, had been detected alive.
Shorten's wider public profile began when he spent almost two weeks updating the media about the underground rescue effort. He gained the respect of miners, families and mine management, although outside detractors sniped that he was showboating. As a journalist who covered the Beaconsfield story and then wrote a book about it, this reporter believes the criticism was unfair.
Shorten had flown initially from Canada when the miners were simply missing, believed dead, declaring the AWU stuck with its members when they were in trouble, and he undertook the unheralded work of keeping the missing miners' families informed.
Shorten, in fact, has the gift of speaking the salty language of miners, factory-floor workers and the smooth tones of captains of industry alike. The style has got him a long way and now comes the most crucial test - substance.