Trio face up to Sky Blue past
Simon Colosimo, Clint Bolton and John Aloisi are all facing their old side for the first time this weekend.
When Melbourne Heart were put their playing list together, there were some unfair suggestions that they were simply building a 'lite' version of Sydney FC. Three of the Sky Blues biggest names, striker John Aloisi, defender Simon Colosimo and keeper Clint Bolton signed on for the new franchise after winning the championship last season.
On Saturday, all three of those players confront their former team for the first time at AAMI Park, and for Bolton, who spent five years with the Harbour City club, there is a real desire to inflict some pain on his former team.
"I'm not going to lie, there's a small part of me that wants to beat them, no doubt about that, but there's a bigger part that just wants three points, doesn't matter who we play," he said.
"We are coming off the back of three losses, so it could be any of the other ten teams in the league, it wouldn't bother me, we want three points and that's the key."
However, Bolton is far from sentimental about confronting the Sky Blues, with his heart firmly with the Heart ahead of this match.
Even the prospect of his great mate Terry McFlynn breaking the keeper's club record for appearances barely registers with Bolton.
"To me, Sydney is history. It's something that after I stop playing I'll reflect on and have a think about. At the moment, I'm 100 per cent Heart, it's all I think about," he said.
"I think about the next game, my next training session, that's all I think about. I've made some good friends at Sydney, had some good results there. It's something I'll look back on after I finish."
Colosimo and Aloisi also have little time to look in the rear-view mirror. Both of them have endured less than ideal starts to their careers at the Hyundai A-League's newest club and will be focussing on living up to their reputations in the second half of the season.
Aloisi's campaign has been restricted by his need to manage his aging body, which struggles to back-up from week to week. While Heart jetted off to New Zealand this week to take on Wellington, Aloisi was told to rest and have himself ready to face his former club.
Heart coach John van 't Schip has had to show patience with the man he calls 'old man Johnny', but when the Socceroos legend has played, he has been very effective.
He has scored three goals this season in eight appearances during a campaign which has seen him continually struggle with soft-tissue injuries after hamstring surgery in the off-season.
For Colosimo, the club's captain and the man judged best on ground in last season's Grand Final, things started to unravel when he crashed heavily and injured his neck during the 4-0 loss to Brisbane in September.
He missed the inaugural Melbourne derby, replaced by Matt Thompson in the centre of defence, and has since started in just two matches, as van 't Schip preferred his deputy in that role. That absence has been complicated by a recurring knee injury, but Thompson's suspension for the match against Sydney has opened the door for the skipper's return.
Given that, it's somewhat of a miracle that Bolton, Colosimo and Aloisi are all likely to start on Saturday against their former team.
That's certainly not the keeper's fault. Bolton is the only Heart player to have featured in every minute this season - and only one of two to have started in every game.
A quirk in the draw means that despite the season being past its halfway mark, this is the first time Heart have played Sydney and the first time the Sky Blues have played at AAMI Park.
Given his former team's poor start to the season, Bolton can feel a little unlucky that his side is facing a resurgent Sydney team this week, coming off the back of three wins in five as compared to Melbourne's run of three straight losses.
"Certainly they've got a bit of confidence. They are going to be tough to beat, no doubt about it. Any team outside the top six has got the time and enough points left in the season to make a run and make the finals. I'm sure from their point of view they are going to be keen to keep their momentum up," Bolton said.