Melbourne and Sydney have plummeted on the list of the world's most liveable cities, with rival Australian state capitals Adelaide and Perth leaping ahead of them.
The Economist Intelligence Unit's survey for 2021 rated Auckland, New Zealand as the most liveable city ahead of Osaka, Japan.
Melbourne had basked in the title for seven years before being unseated by the Austria's Vienna in 2018.
It remained in second spot the following year but has dropped to eighth, behind Adelaide (third) and Perth (sixth) and just ahead of Brisbane (10th).
The Victorian capital endured the longest COVID-19 lockdown of any Australian city last year, spending 112 straight days living under stay-at-home orders from early July to late October.
While Melbourne's infrastructure and education system ratings remains steady at 100 per cent, its healthcare (83.3) and culture and environment (88.2) grades fell markedly.
With the city set to emerge from its fourth lockdown in 15 months from Friday, Acting Premier James Merlino said Melbourne still belonged in the top 10.
"We are going through a tough time at the moment, but it is still the best place to live," he told reporters on Wednesday.
"I love being a Melburnian, and we look forward to climbing back up that ladder over the next few years."
Despite enjoying some of the most relaxed restrictions across the nation, Sydney dropped from third to 11th in a similar dive to Melbourne's.
The global survey was postponed in 2020 as enforced lockdowns made it difficult for contributors and expert analysts to collect data for many cities.
Previous chart-topper Vienna fell outside the top 10 to 12th, after dealing with its own second wave of coronavirus.
The German hubs of Frankfurt, Hamburg and Dusseldorf experienced the biggest falls of the 140 global cities surveyed, while Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto in Canada also dropped.
"The downward movement in rankings for the European and Canadian cities can be attributed to the heightened stress on healthcare resources during the second wave of the pandemic," the index said.
WORLD'S 10 MOST LIVEABLE CITIES
* 1. Auckland, New Zealand
* 2. Osaka, Japan
* 3. Adelaide, Australia
* =4. Wellington, New Zealand
* =4. Tokyo, Japan
* 6. Perth, Australia
* 7. Zurich, Switzerland
* =8. Geneva, Switzerland
* =8. Melbourne, Australia
* 10. Brisbane, Australia
WORLD'S 10 LEAST LIVEABLE CITIES
* 1. Damascus, Syria
* 2. Lagos, Nigeria
* 3. Port Moresby, PNG
* 4. Dhaka, Bangladesh
* 5. Algiers, Algeria
* 6. Tripoli, Libya
* 7. Karachi, Pakistan
* 8. Harare, Zimbabwe
* 9. Douala, Cameroon
* 10. Caracas, Venezuela