After weeks and months of hype leading into the 2013-14 campaign, the coach of one of the competition's heavyweights expects his players to deliver when it matters
There will be nowhere for unprepared teams to hide when the A-League season kicks off this week, according to Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou.
The lengthy break between campaigns has provided plenty of opportunity for discussion, with all 10 coaches talking up their side's chances at the official season launch, held across two cities in Melbourne and Sydney on Tuesday.
The time has finally come for the clubs to make good on their promises of improved performances, with Victory set to take on cross-city rivals Melbourne Heart at a packed Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
"We've had a good pre-season, it's been long and it's been challenging for the players," Postecoglou said.
"You can sense over the last week or so that they're all pretty excited about the first game. I'm sure every coach will tell you pre-season has been fantastic. But we'll find out this weekend who really has had a fantastic pre-season."
Postecoglou said he is confident Victory have recruited effectively, citing their ability to field a strong side this weekend despite the loss of Mark Milligan and Kosta Barbarouses to international duty.
"We fell short last year and when you fall short you do a review and try and bridge that gap for us to be challenging this year. [There were] a few things we needed to change. Part of that was playing personnel, but also in terms of the way we wanted to structure our game.
"I think we've got more depth this year. I think probably that was the biggest area last year. We got a couple of key injuries in the back half of the season, we really struggled. So we've tried to bulk up our squad this year so we can cover in all areas of the park. We've got a couple missing this weekend but we can still put out a strong line up."
Victory suffered a 2-1 defeat to Heart in Round 1 last season, but their stalwart striker Archie Thompson says it is the team in red and white who have something to prove in 2013-14.
"We started the season off not how we wanted to," he said, referring to that surprise loss.
"As the season went on we got better. They're probably more the team with unfinished business. We've worked hard in the off-season, we know exactly what we need to do out there and we're very excited for the game on Saturday."