The ignominy of their gold medal count has been too much - so the Aussies have invented the rogue nation of "Aus Zealand".
For the first time since the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, where the trans-Tasman rivals joined forces as Australasia, the countries are united again - at least according to Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper.
On Saturday the Daily Telegraph described New Zealand's "golden hour" at the rowing regatta as "Black Friday", but yesterday switched sides and co-opted the Kiwis as fair dinkum Ockers as Australia's gold medal tally stood at one - a surprise win in the women's 4x100 freestyle relay.
Day 10's medal tally boldly proclaimed AUS ZEALAND in ninth place. "Welcome to Aus Zealand" the Telegraph reported on an inside page.
"Yes, that's right, the Kiwis have given plenty of good things to us in the past (Melbourne Cup winners, movie stars and musicians) so now it's time to start counting their medals as our own," the paper explains.
By that rationale Aus Zealand had four golds and 27 medals overall to sit ninth, one place ahead of North Korea yet still behind Kazakhstan.
"And let's not stop with the Olympics," the item continued.
"How about we try it in rugby as well, at least we'll never lose the Bledisloe Cup again."
On a more serious note - and some Australians find it difficult to accept they currently lag behind North Korea and a former Soviet republic famous for Borat - the sports-mad nation's expectations of 15 golds and a top-five placing on the medal table have been scaled down dramatically.
To lighten the mood, TAB Sportsbet bet quoted Australia at $1.50 shots to top Kazakhstan's gold medal haul but they've drifted to $2.40 outsiders after Olga Rypakova's triple jump title boosted that country's haul to six.
When New Zealanders Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan surged to gold in rowing's double sculls on Thursday, presenters on Australia's host broadcaster Channel Nine described the Kiwis' withering finishing burst as akin to Phar Lap and joked: "we might have to claim them too."
ESPN's Australian broadcaster Russell Barwick subsequently suggested the men in black were from the mythical land of "New Stralia".
- Fairfax Media
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