I heard it, Rick -- you said "brand!" Not to keep beating that dead horse, but I've already wondered whether Gap's (NYSE:GPS) brand has suffered serious damage from management's failure to deliver the magic to shoppers for far too long.

As for Forth & Towne, I wouldn't put too much stock in that retail concept as a big catalyst yet, considering its incredibly tough competition. Sure, the mature female shopper is a lucrative demographic -- just ask Chico's (NYSE:CHS) and Coldwater Creek (NASDAQ:CWTR). But it's also a fickle one -- look at J. Jill (NASDAQ:JILL) or Talbots (NYSE:TLB). Meanwhile, word on the street is that Forth & Towne's merchandise may not even be too different from the regular Gap's.

I respect Rick's points about the Gap today vs. the Gap of 1999, but I just can't ignore its flat earnings and falling margins, nor the flagging same-store sales that have reared their head recently. A splashy advertising blitz featuring Sarah Jessica Parker may have amply convinced us that she enjoys being a girl, but it didn't persuade shoppers to head back to the Gap. (I questioned the logic of that ad campaign in 2004, wondering if it might be just crazy enough to work. Looking back roughly a year later, apparently it wasn't.)

Given Gap's last several years, I can't help but expect more of the same: flashy ad campaigns and window displays that yield little exciting merchandise inside the stores. A brand that shoppers may no longer consider fashion-forward, especially when there are so many other, hipper options. A sea of hoodies, T-shirts, and jeans that don't excite unless they're on super-special clearance. Maybe Gap will get its groove back, but I'm not sure. It seems to me that the company may need to do something drastic, instead of focusing on what it calls "classic." The way I see it, that's defined here as what used to work.

Sometimes, "classic" is shorthand for "lost the magic." Sometimes, cheap stocks are cheap for a reason.

Think you're done with the Duel? You're not! Go back and read the other three arguments, then vote for a winner.

Gap has been recommended by both Motley Fool Stock Advisor and Motley Fool Inside Value.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.