Melbourne City coach John van 't Schip is relishing his club's new rivalry with Sydney FC as the Victorians gear up to to face the league leaders in tonight's Hyundai A-League blockbuster at ANZ Stadium.
Second placed City are in the Harbour City for a top-of-the-table clash in Harvey Norman Friday Night Football.
They face a Sky Blues side six points ahead of them at the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder.
And after a week of humid and rainy weather in Sydney, conditions are set to be clear and a comfortable 19 degrees at kick off with for what looms as a humdinger of a contest.
Sydney could stretch their advantage on the ladder to nine points with a win and when asked if that would make it tough for City to win the 2016/17 Premiership, Van 't Schip agreed - to a point.
"Yeah, that's true," he said.
"We're not looking too much at the table. We know of course where we are and where they are - that's clear.
"As I already said, it's about performing, improving and if we start playing better and better - the way that we want to - in the end that has to result in winning a lot of games."
The Dutchman added: "Sydney have showed until now that they've been more consistent but we want to challenge [for the title] and we want to challenge them.
"Again even after a result that maybe would not go our way, the league is still long."
City will take confidence from their gritty 1-0 Westfield FFA Cup Final triumph over the Sky Blues last week even though Van 't Schip insisted his team can improve on that performance.
That match looks set to be a catalyst for an increased rivalry between City and Sydney and off the back of last week's fiery encounter with Brisbane Roar, Van 't Schip declared his club will only benefit.
"I think that's only good," he said.
"We want those kind of games… that you get that kind of rivalry together and people are looking forward to that, players are looking forward to that."