"Refresh and refocus" has been the theme at Warners Bay while Merewether players have been urged to show more accountability as both sides look to rebound from defeats when they meet on Sunday for the first time since last year's Herald Women's Premier League grand final.
United won the thrilling championship decider 4-3 for the second year straight and host the rematch at Myamblah Oval this weekend but will be without key personnel for the clash.
Midfielder Jane McDonald is away and Jamee Ellis is suspended after she was red-carded in a 3-1 loss to Wallsend last round. Her fellow defenders Nicki Jones and Sarah Hartree are carrying injuries and will be given until the eleventh hour to prove their fitness.
Merewether coach Cassandra Koppen was still mulling over what her line-up and formation would look like but wanted to see an overall improved effort.
"Once we get all of our players back we'll have a large squad with a lot of quality players and competition for starting spots will be tight," Koppen said.
"But now is the time for some bench players to show their worth and for some established starting players with WPL experience to put their hands up to be leaders on the field and work hard while we're struggling with numbers.
"I feel like we've had some players in the past weeks who haven't stood up and, especially in the absence of Jane and Jamee, we need leaders out there."
The match will be livestreamed and Koppen expected both teams to rise to the occasion.
"We always lift against Warners Bay. We have a fierce rivalry and we enjoy playing them," Koppen said.
The Panthers lost 4-2 to unbeaten leaders New Lambton last round but captain Cassidy Davis was not reading too much into the result of a game that was their fourth in 12 days.
"It was a tough period and we had training disruptions as well but we had a bit of a different session through the week and everyone is feeling refreshed," Davis said.
"This week has been about making sure we're focused and also not worried about last week. The girls know what they need to do."
The visitors will field a full-strength side against United. They are second on the competition standings with nine points, three adrift of the Eagles, while Merewether are level-pegging with South Wallsend on six points.
The Wolves travel to Alder Park to play the high-flying Eagles, who have Jets striker Tara Andrews back on board this week after she was away for round five.
Wallsend head to Wauchope buoyed by their victory over the defending champions but will meet an equally confident Mid North Coast, who have strung together wins over Thornton and Adamstown in their past two outings.
The Red Devils will be without key player Olivia Kennedy, who broke her ankle against Merewether and Wallsend coach Brad Jones was expecting a battle in Wauchope.
"Mick Grass is a good coach and I'm not surprised they've doing well," Jones said.
"They're a young side but they did a fantastic job through the state cup last year and it's going to be a really tough game.
"It's a chance for us to say last week wasn't a fluke, which I'm confident it wasn't, and it's a chance for Mid North Coast to show the competition that they need to be taken seriously. Both teams have a bit to play for and will both be out to send a bit of a message."
Thornton and Adamstown will chase their first points of the season at Thornton Park. All games are Sunday at 2.30pm.
Watch Merewether take on Warners Bay live here courtesy of BarTV.