Long before a ball was due to be kicked in the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 Season, Sydney FC were intent on trumping their fiercest rivals.
The Sky Blues went on a daring spree, poaching a few star players from rival clubs.
Kosta Barbarouses crossed the #BigBlue divide from Melbourne Victory to the Sky Blues, while Luke Brattan swapped Melbourne City for the Harbour City.
But perhaps the biggest deal was the capture of German playmaker Alexander Baumjohann from crosstown foes Western Sydney Wanderers.
It would be understandable if there was a sense of awkwardness between the established Sydney FC squad and the new faces, Rhyan Grant says that hasn't been the case.
"It’s a funny one with Kosta [Barbarouses] and Alex [Baumjohann] coming from our biggest rivals, and Brattsy [Brattan] sort of sees himself as having the biggest banter in the league...but they have all adapted really well," Grant tells www.a-league.com.au.
"Everyone expected it could be a little bit tense with rival players but they have fit in really well.
"They are really good people and obviously really good players. They are massive assets for us and I’m looking to a big season from all of those boys."
While he has settled quickly at Sydney FC, it hasn't all been smooth sailing for former Victory star Barbarouses.
The Kiwi international hasn't escaped the wrath of Victory fans, who have been taunting the 29-year-old on social media.
Underlining their disappointment at his move to the Sky Blues, Victory supporters have replied to any Barbarouses post on Instagram with a 'snake emoji'.
"And we jumped on the bandwagon," Grant says with a laugh.
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"I think he [Barbarouses] gets hundreds of comments with the snake emoji so it only made sense for everyone to jump on there.
"Whenever someone puts anything on Instagram all the boys are quickly onto it with silly comments or taking the mickey.
“It’s a bit of a laugh but obviously coming from Melbourne Victory he’s going to cop a bit of flak for it. We’re just having a laugh with him and trying to make him feel welcome.”
Sydney FC’s impressive feats in the transfer market will ensure the club is expected to mount a fierce defence of their title.
No club has won back-to-back Championships since Brisbane Roar in 2012 but Grant is making no secret of the Sky Blues’ ambitions in 2019/20.
"We go into every season wanting to win. Sydney FC have always been a big club and very ambitious club and we always set goals to win every trophy we can,” the Caltex Socceroos right-back said.
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"Obviously the FFA Cup has gone past us now but that gives us more focus on the league and the premiership.
"We’re looking forward to digging into that and going all the way like we did last year and getting the [Premiers’ Plate] while we’re at it.
"The new players will add to that but we’re very keen to get the season started and back it up.”
Here is some of Sydney FC's finest pre-season banter
Courtesy of sydneyfc.com