Melbourne City coach Michael Valkanis can't help but wonder what might have been if centre-back Michael Jakobsen had been fit all season.
Jakobsen made his first appearance in eight games on Friday night, helping City to just their fourth cleansheet of the 2016-17 A-League campaign as they defeated Adelaide United 1-0 at AAMI Park.
The Danish defender has missed 10 matches this term through a combination of muscle strains but has made a significant difference when he has played - City concede approximately half a goal less per game when Jakobsen is involved.
With the A-League finals just a fortnight away, Valkanis was thrilled by the prospect of having a fully fit Jakobsen again.
"He's trained well and we knew he'd get 90 minutes under his belt because he's a professional… I thought he had another very, very good game," Valkanis told reporters post-match.
City's boss added: "In the A-League, it's a salary cap.
"You've got a certain amount of players and the players that you bring in from overseas, you want Michael to be available and to play, and he makes a difference and when a player like that is unavailable it causes you problems."
Valkanis argued City thoroughly deserved their win over the Reds, which strengthened the prospect of the Bundoora-based club playing at home in the first week of the finals.
Tim Cahill, Melbourne City
Tim Cahill proved the difference, flicking on Nicolas Colazo's corner with a trademark header in the 36th minute to score his eighth goal of the season.
"We know Timmy is a weapon but not only his header today but his performance on the pitch, his workmanlike attitude, his pressing, his work-rate off the ball… I thought he was exceptional and he did a very good job for us," Valkanis said.
City will finish the regular season with a trip to Perth Glory next Sunday.