The Melbourne derby headlines the return of the Hyundai A-League this weekend.
It’s an opportunity for several league newcomers – including Melbourne Victory stars Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen - to become instant heroes for their side, and throw down an early gauntlet to the rest of the country.
In anticipation for one the most exciting fixtures on the Australian footballing calendar, we’re taking a look back at five other players who reached hero-status for their clubs through memorable Melbourne derby performances.
Brazilian attacker Alex Terra offered several moments of unparalleled class during his time in Australia.
And that was on full display when the first Melbourne derby rolled around in October 2010.
Terra laid on an early goal for John Aloisi before volleying in a second-half winner to claim initial bragging rights for Melbourne Heart,
That result made Heart feel a part of the Hyundai A-League furniture, and Terra would continue to shine in the fixture’s next two offerings – including a controversial goal in 2011/12 which helped Heart secure a 3-2 win.
The derby is famed for last-minute drama, and this ultimate knockout blow is still perhaps the fixture’s defining moment.
Archie Thompson would score six goals in 11 matches against Melbourne Victory’s hated rivals, but none will live longer in the memory than his famous stoppage-time stunner in December 2012.
A late equaliser from Fred nine minutes from time appeared to have salvaged Heart a well-deserved point.
But Thompson – always one for the occasion – had other ideas.
Victory broke forward through Marco Rojas in the second minute of injury time, and Thompson clipped Heart goalkeeper Clint Bolton with the most delicate of chipped finishes.
Thompson’s strike scarred Melbourne Heart for a considerable amount of time.
But in 2014/15, with Heart rebranding as Melbourne City, Victory’s neighbours would finally muster revenge for that famous Thompson effort.
Midfield lynchpin Erik Paartalu is a man well-versed in decisive last-gasp contributions, having netted that incredible equalising goal for Brisbane Roar in the 2011 Hyundai A-League Grand Final.
And while this instance might not rival that truly iconic moment, Paartalu’s 90th-minute winner for City in the derby of December 2014 will be savoured by those in white and blue for many years.
Paartalu arrived late in the box to fire in a textbook downward header from Mate Dugandzic’s cross and become an instant hero for Melbourne City.
Can you imagine a better way to announce yourself to the Melbourne derby – and the Hyundai A-League stage?
Tim Cahill’s wonder goal for Melbourne City against Victory in the first derby of the 2016/17 season is a moment that will go down in Hyundai A-League folklore.
The Caltex Socceroos legend was making his first start Hyundai A-League start, and marked that in some style – hitting an audacious half-volley from 40 yards out that swerved into the top corner.
That moment would inspire a crushing 4-1 win for City – their best ever over their rivals – and cement a piece of domestic history on home soil for one of Australia’s all-time overseas greats.
It takes nerves of considerable steel to block out the white-hot atmosphere of the Melbourne derby and make your mark from the penalty spot.
And that was only intensified for Mark Milligan when he was handed the chance to win the derby in the last minute of stoppage time in December 2017.
Milligan had arrived into the match as a second-half substitute and was tripped by City goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis with the game seemingly destined for a stalemate.
But Milligan picked himself up and slotted the resulting penalty away to align himself with some of the derbies most celebrated heroes.