Goal Australia's match reporters provide insight and analysis from each weekend's action in the 2013-14 A-League season1. Stronger foundations for Sydney FC [John Greco @ Allianz]
Frank Farina's rebuild of the Sydney side this season got off to the perfect start with a first-up home win. While star striker Alessandro Del Piero will get most of the headlines, the Sky Blues' boss will be even happier with the way his back four looked so assured. Defence was Sydney's Achilles heel last season but the three new faces at the back – Pedj Bojic, Nikola Petkovic and Marc Warren – were solid, and Nicky Carle was immense in a deeper-lying defensive midfield role.
It would be unfair to write Newcastle off after one bad performance, especially as they were missing their two most experienced players in Emile Heskey and Michael Bridges. They looked capable in playing the ball out from the back and into midfield but coach Gary van Egmond will need to get some quality into their play in the front third if the Jets are to challenge the top sides this season.
2. Mariners the happier team after Grand Final re-match [Hamish Neal @ Bluetongue]
Given the personnel the Central Coast Mariners had missing they should be pleased with their Round 1 result against the Western Sydney Wanderers. A deep-lying Mariners outfit often found their strikers isolated as Marcos Flores was nullified early in the Argentinean's first game for Graham Arnold's side. Tony Popovic's men were able to control the middle of the park and were worth their late goal. But both sets of supporters went home relatively pleased by this first-up effort for last season's grand finalists.
3. Toothless Victory a worry for Ange [Iain Strachan @ Etihad]
As expected, Ange Postecoglou persisted with his striker-less 4-2-4 formation and, just as they did last season, the Victory continue to lack genuine penetration and threat in the final third. When key men are missing from the first XI - on Saturday they were Guilherme Finkler, Mark Milligan and Kosta Barbarouses - and the players on the field don't click, a team able to keep their shape can easily frustrate their opponents in navy blue and white. When that happens, we're yet to see an effective Plan B from Ange.
What else did we learn at Etihad Stadium? Rashid Mahazi is a tidy, promising player, Jason Hoffman will never be more than a stop-gap right-back and Harry Kewell can still play some nice passes.
Oh, and a crowd of 45,202 is no guarantee of a decent game.
4. Weakened Phoenix unfortunate to lose [Emma Stoney @ Westpac]
Both Ernie Merrick and Mike Mulvey will have taken positives from Brisbane's 2-1 win over Wellington at Westpac Stadium.
Mulvey will be happy the Roar took the three points from what is traditionally a difficult trip for visiting sides - even if he is not too thrilled by his team's overall performance.
The Phoenix meanwhile got within touching distance of a draw against a decent Roar outfit despite being without their All Whites contingent. Merrick will also have been pleased by Carlos Hernandez's contribution in his first A-League game since the 2011-12 season, while there were also promising debuts from Reece Caira and Kenny Cunningham.
5. New-look the Reds the real deal? [Steve Barrett @ Coopers]
With three goals, two red cards, an A-League record eight yellows and some of the slickest passing seen on South Australian soil, Josep Gombau's new regime as Adelaide United coach had everything. The Reds moved the ball with precision and with minimal risk for much of the contest, looked dangerous in attack and defended stoutly when under siege in the closing stages.
Beaten but not disgraced and still a month away from being at full-strength, Glory are a team in transition but their potential is undeniable.