Nine years ago the question was "who is the real Julia Gillard?". It was 2010, the ALP campaign was travelling badly and the then prime minister was concerned with the way she had been presenting herself.
"It's time for me to make sure that the real Julia is well and truly on display ... I'm going to step up and take personal charge of what we do in the campaign from this point," she said.
The then opposition leader, Tony Abbott, had a field day, asking at every available opportunity if the Gillard who colluded in the dumping of an elected prime minister to obtain the top job wasn't the "real Julia", then who was?
Fast forward almost a decade and the same conundrum has presented itself. Anthony Albanese, the all-but-anointed leader of the ALP, has come out saying all the right things in the wake of the defeat.
"People are looking for solutions rather than arguments," he said. "[We were] seen to be talking about the sharing of wealth when we also needed to talk about the creation of wealth ... people do aspire to improve their living standards".
All of this makes perfect sense, with a post-election survey finding the Morrison government's victory was driven by its economic narrative, a clearer campaign message and a more popular leader.
Issues that influenced people to vote Liberal were economic management (25 per cent), tax policy (23 per cent), health (12 per cent) and franking credits (11 per cent).
The one in three who voted Labor were influenced by climate change (30 per cent), health (29 per cent), education (22 per cent) and the environment (12 per cent).
It's no wonder Albanese has flagged moving away from a market-based mechanism to address climate change and pledged to review the controversial franking credits and negative gearing policies that got the party offside with "aspirational Australians".
Albanese must convince both friends and foes this new kinder, gentler and more middle-of-the-road version of himself is the real Anthony.
The problem is that, as a class warrior of long-standing, whose personal slogan appears to be "I fight Tories", the leadership candidate the ALP rejected six years ago is going to have a hard job convincing voters he has had an epiphany on the road to Canberra.
Scott Morrison will have no trouble making the case Albanese and the ALP will tell voters what it thinks they want to hear right up until polling day in 2022, and then revert to type with high taxes and plans for wealth redistribution.
That is, after all, pretty much what Tony Abbott did with a very different reform agenda back in 2013. It was also the basis for the ALP's "Mediscare" campaign in 2016.
Albanese, and those backing him into the leadership, who include members of the NSW right faction, are suggesting he has mellowed with age since those heady days when he led student protests at university and, more recently, opposed his own party's leaders on refugee policy and the like.
The trouble is his personal, and electoral, support base is very much of the left. There is only so far he can move towards the centre before he begins to alienate his own Labor Left faction and the Green-leaning voters of Grayndler.
For him to survive in the role, which is his for the claiming thanks to his strong support among the ALP's rank and file, he will have to perform a very delicate balancing act for an extended period of time.
Albanese will also need to convince both friends and foes that this new kinder, gentler and more middle-of-the-road version of himself is the real Anthony.