Ian Thorpe has suffered another heavy beating in the pool just three months out from the Olympic selection trials in Adelaide.
Australia's most successful Olympian clocked a disappointing time of 50.84 seconds to finish 16th overall in the 100 metres in his first long-course race in nearly six years.
Thorpe, the bronze medallist in the event at the 2004 Athens Games, must have been looking at the very least to crack the 50-second mark at the Italian Winter Open in Riccione.
However the 29-year-old's 100 metre performance has again raised doubts about whether he is capable of returning to his best, let alone competing with current stars such as James Magnussen.
The 100 metres was won by Italian speedster Luca Dotto in 48.78 seconds, just ahead of 2005 world champion Filippo Magnini.
Thorpe's best time in the blue-ribbon event of 48.56s was set in finishing third at the Athens Games seven years ago.
Australia enjoys enormous depth in the 100 metres, with plenty of quality sprinters aside from the quartet that won the 4x100m relay at this year's world titles.