Analysis: Melbourne City searching for mark of champions
Melbourne City's frustrating 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday shone a light on the killer edge still eluding the Hyundai A-League's would-be powerhouse.
Contrast the result with Sydney FC's 2-0 win over Perth Glory two weeks ago: like City, they were saddled with a misfiring main striker, a determined opposition goalkeeper and the expectation of a home crowd.
Still, as champions inevitably do, they got the job done.
Ross McCormack will admit he had the chances to change the complexion of Sunday's clash at AAMI Park and a fit Bruno Fornaroli might have ensured that was the case.
But the challenge of rising to the occasion is not a new obstacle for a team which has suffered premature Finals Series exits in three consecutive seasons.
Developing a ruthless streak to challenge the competition's very best will simply take time.
Warren Joyce's team does, however, boast one valuable hallmark of last season's runaway leaders in the shape of a well-organised defence led capably by Bart Schenkeveld.
Oriol Riera's outburst upon being substituted was understandable given the way he had been blanketed by City's impressive Dutchman.
And if the ability to call on a smart, tough-tackling defender isn't enough cause for Joyce to look on the bright side, he only has to ponder Western Sydney's run of five straight draws to put his own frustration into context.
Josep Gombau will have seen areas to improve and there is no coach in the Hyundai A-League better suited to whipping up the excitement that should snap Wanderers out of their middling streak.