The curious case of Brisbane Roar

It has been a summer of despair thus far for Brisbane Roar, so is the Asian Champions League a blessing or a curse?

It has largely been a summer of despair thus far for Brisbane Roar, so whether next month's Asian Champions League clash with Buriram United comes at the best or worst of times is a curious question.

To qualify for the group stage of the continent's most prestigious club competition would provide a massive boost for the Roar, but there is also the risk the trip to Thailand on February 13 could prove a distraction at a critical point of the season.

The back-to-back champions sit near the foot of the Hyundai A-League table, but the tightness of the competition means they are probably only a few wins away from rejoining the top six.

More worrying than the team's league position, however, is the lack of consistency displayed this season.

Since the departure of coach Ange Postecoglou to Melbourne Victory last April, the Roar have attempted to replicate their form of previous seasons, first with Rado Vidosic and now under Mike Mulvey, without sustained success.

There have been moments this season when the team in orange echoed the style of the Dutch sides of old, stringing together the kind of gorgeous passing sequences and dominant possession football that we have come to expect from the Roar.

At other times, though, they have more resembled tradesmen in their fluorescent uniforms, so laborious and predictable have they been in their movements and execution.

The prospect of something different on the horizon, namely a foray into Asia with the possibility of more to come, could serve to stimulate a buzz around the side that carries through to the final stretch of the season.

Conversely, a trip to hot and humid Thailand wedged between two league fixtures (Sydney FC on February 10 and Wellington Phoenix on the 17th) risks putting a strain on the squad, and shifting focus away from the local competition at a time when every match will be vital to Brisbane's finals hopes.

Roar coach Mulvey says preparations for the match against Buriram are already underway, but remain in the background, so as not to prove a distraction to players.

"We're doing all the normal intelligence that you gather," Mulvey said.

"But we've got very pressing things on our hands here, so we need to concentrate on each game as it comes.

"Obviously as a coach you're forward planning, so you're aware of where we need to be in three or four weeks' time. But the players, we've not even talked to the players about it."

Nor has the ACL affected the club's transfer policies, which Mulvey said were more geared to long-term development.

"In terms of the transfer policy, it's something that I'm not thinking short term, I'm thinking long term," he said.

"You don't just want to be bringing someone to fix, because we can't score goals, or we haven't got this - I'm looking for players who are going to be here today and beyond.

"We're certainly not looking at buying players or bringing players in specifically for the Champions League."

As for providing the spark to reignite the Roar's season, Mulvey explained that the Champions League would provide a major motivation in itself for his side.

"When you're representing the A-League in the Champions League, it's really important for us that we put on a good show for Australia, and that's what we'll be doing," he said.

"When we get to the ACL that will be really important to us, but we'll do that preparation bit by bit as we get closer to the game.

"But right now, if we start thinking about that game then, we forget about what's really important right now and that is the A-League."

Brisbane's Hyundai A-League results in the weeks leading up to the Buriram United fixture will likely affect how they approach the match.

Whether the team remains lodged at the bottom of the ladder or manages to string a few wins together and be pushing for a finals spot, squad resources will need to be managed to perfection over the three matches in the week in February.

If that tricky period is handled successfully by the Roar, there remains a chance the 2012/13 season could still be remembered a triumphant one.

Should the build up of pressure around the congested fixture list prove too much to handle, however, the reigning champions may find there is little left to salvage heading into the final stretch of the season.