Paul Okon wants his young Central Coast squad to replicate his own playing journey this A-League season, and hopes he has the ingredients to make that happen.
There's a thoroughly optimistic mood in Gosford ahead of Saturday's visit by traditional derby rivals Newcastle Jets to kick off the season.
It will be a new-look Central Coast side, with a new captain, a new goalkeeper and three other foreigners likely to be among new faces in the starting XI.
Prodigious talent Daniel De Silva is likely to line up too after returning to the A-League to play for Okon, his previous mentor.
There's no shortage of talented youngsters that could also feature, if not in round one, then through the season.
Goalkeeper Tom Glover - who left Tottenham Hotspur in the search for first-team action - was cited by Okon as another to watch.
"We've got a tradition to give youth a go. We've got Daniel, Tom, Liam Rose, Trent Buhagiar, Adam Berry, Kye Rowles," he said.
"They're not there because the club wants to give opportunities.
“They're there because they're good enough."
They're not there because the club wants to give opportunities. They're there because they're good enough.PAUL OKON
But as Okon well knows, talent is not enough.
The 28-cap Socceroo has drawn on his own journey through the National Soccer League as inspiration, bringing in players - Dutch pair Tom Hiariej and Wout Brama, new skipper Alan Baro and fellow Spaniard Asdrubal - that can bring the best out of his homegrown kids.
"I learned a lot from having good experienced players around me," he said.
"I came through the late '80s, early '90s Marconi team. The best team in the country then.
"People like Ian Gray and Tommy McCulloch and Zlatko Nastevski - the biggest players in the country at the time.
"It was that team environment. So it's good they can learn not only things on the field but also what it means to be a professional footballer off the field from these guys."
The Mariners aim to improve from last season's eighth-placed finish, with six wins and 23 points.
Okon believes a toughened spine will allow them to do that, even with added expectation.
"We didn't wait one minute after the final whistle of the season,” he said.
“We were back at work the next day finding those players we needed.
"If there's more expectation then we welcome that.
“It means we're improving.
“Maybe people feel we're more chance to win.
"We feel we're strong enough to be able to do that more consistently."