Maltese symbolic and lived identities are examined to explore the changes that occur in cultural identity between generations and place of residence within metropolitan Sydney. The results are employed to problematise Sandberg's straight-line theory, that is, that ethnic identity will decline with each successive generation. Our results, exploring ethnic identity in both its symbolic and lived-experience forms, confirm arguments that global cities are not homogeneous territories, as implied by Sandberg, but rather sites of cultural difference. The results suggest that, regardless of place of residence or generation, the symbolic Maltese identities remain similar, combating the old, naive assimilationist assumption that all immigrants would quickly abandon their ethnic identity, and favouring arguments supporting hybrid identities. Similarly, results for Maltese identity as lived experience suggest that their Maltese identity is less important only for those second-generation Maltese living in census collection districts with less than 10 per cent of the population born in Malta.