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It might just be that the rival is so much weaker, that they can't be considered a serious threat.
Whatever the reason, the rival is competing for the same thing as the other character.
To say that a computer "looks sleek" as the primary point of praise would indicate that it is not that amazing when you actually use it as a computer, for example.
To describe a person as punctual when asked about how they perform at work carries the heavy implication that this is their only valuable trait.
Related to many Insult Tropes; can be the result of a Compliment Backfire.
May take the form of an Overly Narrow Superlative or a Trivially Obvious statement.
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See also Wants a Prize for Basic Decency, So Okay, It's Average, Not Like Other Girls, and You Are a Credit to Your Race.
Contrast with Stealth Insult, which also damns people through "praise" - in that case, though, the praise is illusionary rather than merely weak. Those who confuse faint praise with actual praise will claim that It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars.
An alternate version of the trope (frequently used in Caustic Critic reviews) is to condemn something by praising it in comparison to something else that's widely accepted as being not at all good.
For example: "This movie has a more coherent plot than ".