News has emerged of a potential friendly between the red and whites and their new parent club, but it's unlikely to top last year's MCG spectacular
By Iain Strachan
If reports Melbourne Heart will play Manchester City in Docklands on May 20 are confirmed, organisers should not expect to match the extraordinary success of Melbourne Victory's exhibition against Liverpool last July.
Fans must also temper their hopes of seeing the very best City stars Down Under.
The Nine Network on Thursday reported a game will take place between Heart and the English Premier League giants, whose owners completed a takeover of Victoria's newest A-League franchise in January.
The timing of the match is not ideal, but understandable given the constraints of a World Cup year.
Players will be allowed a holiday after the tournament in Brazil, followed by pre-arranged events like the International Champions Cup, which begins in July 24, and leads directly into the 2014-15 season.
Any ad-hoc tours or one-off appearances must be squeezed in before everything shuts down for the FIFA showcase in South America.
Final national team squads must be submitted no later than 10 days before the beginning of the tournament on June 12, and an expanded group of players will be in camp with their respective countries long before then.
That means Joe Hart and James Milner (England), Vincent Kompany (Belgium), Pablo Zabaleta, Sergio Aguero and Martin Demichelis (Argentina), Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas and David Silva (Spain), Edin Dzeko (Bosnia), Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri (France), Fernandinho (Brazil), and Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast) are all likely to be missing, unless City can squeeze in the trip before their players depart for international duty.
City's last game of the season will be at home to West Ham United on May 12, with England's first pre-World Cup friendly on May 31 against Peru, while Belgium are in action on May 26. There is a window of opportunity, but it is unlikely to be accommodating to the needs of a money-spinning promotional jaunt.
If the big guns are absent, Micah Richards, Jolean Lescott and Jack Rodwell, all set to be overlooked by Roy Hodgson, Aleksander Kolarov, Javi Garcia and Steven Jovetic will be among the best the travelling party have to offer.
However, even if it was a City team guaranteed to be at full-strength, the chances of interest levels matching those witnessed for the visit of Liverpool are remote.
The simple reason for that is City, for so long the underachieving poor relation of Manchester United, do not command the long-held, deep-rooted affection Liverpool enjoy among Australian footballer supporters.
Rather than aspire to compete with a sold-out MCG and its stirring rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone", a game between City and Heart should be measured against the visits of Everton, Celtic and Olympiakos in recent years.
The friendly between Victory and LA Galaxy in 2011 attracted 34,000 supporters, and organisers should be more than satisfied if they can match that.