Revenge is in the air for Melbourne Victory as the Victorians seek to avenge their grand final loss to Sydney in the first blockbuster of the season on Saturday night.
And central defender James Donachie has returned fire at Sydney boss Graham Arnold in the war of words that blew up over Victory's loss of several key players to Socceroos World Cup duty for such a critical game.
Arnold said that Victory boss Kevin Muscat should have taken international absences into account when he was recruiting players in the off-season, saying he preferred to steer clear of signing players - either senior or junior - who might be involved in international matches.
Donachie, however, takes the opposite view, arguing that Victory's overall strength has been deepened by being able to call on such players as Kosta Barbarouses (New Zealand) and Socceroos Mark Milligan and James Troisi, all of whom will be absent on Saturday.
"It's a good thing to have national team players in your squad. Yes we miss them for round one, but you want them in your squad, it brings the standard up, it makes training better," Donachie said.
He also was not prepared to concede that Sydney was the better team in last season's grand final, won in a shootout by the hosts Sydney.
"When you watch the game back I don't think we were the worst team. We played really well, and we had chances where we could have finished the game off.
"On the night they were better at taking penalties than us."
Meanwhile, Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro added his weighty voice to those lining up to take a baseball bat to the FFA and its chairman, Steven Lowy, over the failure to broaden the FFA Congress to give the A-League clubs and PFA sufficient representation, a key demand of the game's global governing body FIFA.
"How embarrassing that the principal of world football, FIFA, could be called in to sort out our classroom," Di Pietro told a Victory in Business season opening lunch at Crown on Wednesday.
"The A-League is the elite premium football competition. It provides a competition where the most talented can showcase and perfect their skills to a sporting mad audience in Australia.
"We generate 70 per cent of football revenue in Australia yet collectively the A-League clubs have only one vote in the congress of 10 ... it's a meaningless vote.
"To be clear in this public forum Melbourne Victory, in line with all of the other A-League clubs, want a professional game, both players and clubs, male and female, to have a democratic say in the voting congress of Australia. And so does FIFA."