The longest unbeaten run in the A-League goes on the line on Sunday afternoon, with very few people predicting anything but Melbourne Victory retaining the status quo against the Central Coast Mariners.
It's been six years to the day that the Mariners last beat Victory; a 1-0 semi-final triumph that preceded the club's grand final triumph the following week.
Back then, Central Coast counted Socceroos Mathew Ryan, Trent Sainsbury and Mile Sterjovski among their team, while Graham Arnold was their coach.
Today, it's Victory with the internationally pedigreed players and a 17-match unbeaten run against their fallen opponents; a shadow of the side that saluted in 2013.
The Mariners resembled witches hats at times during their last-start 3-0 home defeat to Perth Glory, and are desperate to hit the finishing line at the end of the season to regroup and prepare for next season.
That doesn't mean coach Kevin Muscat expects an easy fixture, saying complacency in their preparation would "be the biggest insult to our ourselves and to the opposition".
"A new manager has come in, they've altered the way they play. We've done our research and are preparing well for what is going to be a difficult game, a very difficult game."
That manager, Alen Stajcic has re-jigged the game plan but is playing with a stacked deck; not only are attackers Tommy Oar and Corey Gameiro out with long-term injuries, defenders Aiden O'Neill and Kye Rowles are suspended for the AAMI Park visit.
In contrast, Victory will have players back after their 2-1 Big Blue loss and their 4-0 belting away to Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday night.
Georg Niedermeier is eligible to resume in the A-League, while Raul Baena and Lawrence Thomas are pushing to play after injuries.
And Terry Antonis, stretchered off from their loss in Sydney amid fears of a serious knee injury, might also play a role.
"He has been running the last two or three days so I would like to think so," Muscat said.
"Everything from the medical department has cleared him of any damage whatsoever now, so it's now down to Terry."
STATS THAT MATTER
* James Troisi has goals against the Mariners in both previous fixtures this season, but he hasn't scored since Victory's last clash with Central Coast, a 3-2 win in February.
* Victory's 17-match unbeaten run against Central Coast includes eight straight wins at home.
* For all their woes, Central Coast haven't gone three straight matches without scoring in 18 months; they need a goal at AAMI Park to avoid this unwanted streak.
Australian Associated Press