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Back when they had a monopoly on primetime — and all three made buckets of money — the webs could poke fun at each other via biannual “Battle of the Network Stars” specials (recently replayed on the fledgling cabler Trio).

After all, nothing represented the camaraderie of the network TV biz better than Gabe Kaplan, Telly Savalas and Robert Conrad going mano a mano on kayaks in Pepperdine U.’s Olympic-sized pool.

But times have changed, and NBC has quietly scheduled its new take on the franchise, “Battle of the NBC Stars,” for 9 p.m. Aug. 16.

That’s right, it’s an intra-network contest, rather than a fight between webs.

And even less true to the original conceit, the Peacock celebs are hardly recognizable: a handful of soap stars, “Tonight Show” character Ross “the Intern” Matthews, “Dog Eat Dog” host Brooke Burns and Dondre Whitfield, from canceled laffer “Hidden Hills.”

That’s quite a change from the original specials, which aired from 1976 through 1985. Back then, ABC was actually cool in featuring stars from other nets — not to mention rivals’ logos — on its own air!

And as cheesy as they were, these were truly the networks’ primetime stars. Robin Williams, Farrah Fawcett, Ron Howard, Penny Marshall, Victoria Principal, Billy Crystal and Scott Baio weren’t ashamed to pimp for their web in tiny Speedos or clingy swimwear.

“Battle of the NBC Stars,” which sat on the shelf for almost a year before finally receiving an airdate, misses one more key original component: the late Howard Cosell.

With his “Wide World of Sports”-style announcing, Cosell turned the goofy “Battle” into a real sporting competition. Granted, one with TV stars in tiny Speedos and clingy swimwear.