If Melbourne City are to win their maiden A-League championship this season they will need depth and consistent performers all over the pitch, and John van 't Schip's men unveiled those qualities as they won Saturday night's Melbourne Derby.
First-half goals from youngsters Stefan Mauk and Paulo Retre saw City defeat Melbourne Victory 2-1 at AAMI Park, while goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen denied Besart Berisha on at least three occasions in a man-of-the-match performance.
As Victory surged for an equaliser in the second half, City held firm - something they have not been known for throughout the club's history.
Plus the performances of fringe players like Retre, Mauk and left-back Ben Garuccio showed Van 't Schip's team is not reliant on Aaron Mooy and Bruno Fornaroli to win games on their own.
While Victory slumped to an unprecedented fourth straight defeat, Kevin Muscat's men were unlucky to miss out on a point.
City's performance answered many questions about their bona fides following thumping wins over Perth Glory, Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets - three of the league's strugglers.
It's not that Mooy, Fornaroli or Harry Novillo were poor against Victory, but with the trio having combined for 19 goals and 10 assists this season, the fact they were not involved in a goal on Saturday was noteworthy.
City opened the scoring in the 20th minute after Garuccio blew past Kosta Barbarouses for the second time in the match.
Garuccio sped away before stopping on a dime to leave Barbarouses and Rashid Mahazi on the floor, and the left-back's cross was powered into the net thanks to Mauk's diving header.
It was Mauk's fourth goal of the season and his second in three matches, and the 20-year-old is quickly cementing himself into Van 't Schip's starting line-up on the right wing.
Retre doubled the hosts' lead on the half-hour mark, bursting into the box to side-foot past Danny Vukovic, after first Mauk and then Fornaroli were thwarted.
At the other end of the pitch, Sorensen more than made up for his poor effort for Victory's only goal with a string of saves.
Berisha dragged Victory back into the contest with a volley in the 45th minute, although Sorensen arguably could have done better as he seemed more interested in appealing for offside.
But the veteran Dane finished the match with 11 saves, including a trio of fine stops to deny Berisha.
In the 14th minute, Berisha burst in from left with a couple of step-overs and Sorensen had to tip the Albanian's powerful drive over the bar.
Just after Retre's goal, Sorensen's head blocked Berisha's shot on the turn, while early in the second half, the former Premier League gloveman was sharply off his line to smother a shot when Victory's centre-forward was clear through on goal.
Sorensen didn't stop there either, palming Barbarouses' sharp header onto the post just after the break and thwarting substitute Archie Thompson from close range late on.
Critics had asked City to defeat an A-League heavyweight to prove their credentials.
No other derby win will have tasted as sweet for the club formerly known as Heart.
While Victory slumped to their fourth loss in a row, the reigning champions arguably also answered some of their critics, particularly with their impressive second half.
Few but the most ardent City followers would have begrudged the Big V a point and they looked set to claim a draw on more than one occasion.
Apart from Sorensen's saves, Fahid Ben Khalfallah hit the post with a curling effort that looked destined for the back of the net, while Berisha hit the side-netting from a tight angle with seven minutes remaining after getting past City's onrushing goalkeeper on the counter-attack.
Muscat always prefers to discuss the performance rather than the result - and there was a lot to like about this one, similar to last week's loss to Western Sydney Wanderers - but the title-holders still have work to do.
Victory will head into Christmas at least six points off top spot, and four adrift of their local rivals.