Victory: depth, firepower and winning culture

​In an ominous sign for the rest of the season, Melbourne Victory have made a statement to the rest of the Hyundai A-League over the past fortnight.

The reigning champions claimed the Westfield FFA Cup on November 7, becoming the first club to lift all three major domestic trophies in a calendar year, while their win in Saturday's Big Blue was equally impressive.

Undermanned and up against the - until then - undefeated leaders Sydney FC, Victory underlined their mental strength to triumph 4-2 away from home.

Hyundai A-League team of the week Round 6

By the end of the weekend, Kevin Muscat's team sat within three points of pole position in the A-League table.

Besart Berisha celebrates after scoring Victory's opener in their 4-2 win.

If they knock off eighth-placed Central Coast Mariners by two goals on Thursday night in Melbourne, Victory will rise to first.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. Will anyone pick it up?

There were three main facets to Victory's Big Blue success - squad depth, firepower and a winning culture.

With captain Carl Valeri suspended, four players unavailable due to Olyroos duty and doubts about Kosta Barbarouses' fitness, Muscat selected a much-changed line-up at Allianz Stadium and, despite going behind twice in the first half, the Big V managed to stay with Sydney before the break.

Barbarouses' introduction in the second half was a stark reminder of the various threats Victory pose.

The 25-year-old provided plenty of thrust down the right and scored the visitors' third goal, just a week after winning the Mark Viduka medal as the best player in the FFA Cup Final.

Victory players celebrate Kosta Barbarouses' goal in the 68th minute.

Victory's prompt responses to Sydney's goals in the first half underlined how much belief Muscat has instilled in his side, and the 42-year-old coach was thrilled.

"We came here to perform and on the night I thought we were exceptional," he said.

"There was a lot of talk during the week, fortunately enough for us we've built a culture where we leave our talking for the park."

It is obvious what can be expected from the title-holders throughout the 2015/16 campaign but what remains unclear is if any team can stop them from running away with the title.

Brisbane Roar

Bar Muscat, John Aloisi arguably has the deepest squad at his disposal of any A-League coach.

John Aloisi embraces Henrique following Brisbane Roar's 1-0 win over Perth Glory.

With Jamie Maclaren, Matt McKay and Corey Brown on international duty - plus Michael Theo, Jean Carlos Solorzano and Luke De Vere injured - Aloisi still had three-time A-League champion Henrique, Spanish import Javi Hervas and young gun Devante Clut on the bench on Sunday.

The past fortnight has seen Brisbane only score two goals though as they have struggled to break down stubborn opponents.

Sydney FC

The Sky Blues appear to have a mental block when it comes to Victory.

After getting crushed 3-0 in last season's grand final, Sydney struggled to keep their foot on Victory's throat in Saturday's clash.

Graham Arnold's side seems to be able to keep a match tight or press high and score, but not both things in the same game when up against the best.

Sydney FC players celebrate a goal during their loss to Melbourne Victory.

Western Sydney Wanderers

The Wanderers look to have rediscovered their defensive prowess, while Mitch Nichols, Dario Vidosic and Romeo Castelen are one of the best attacking midfield trios in the competition.

Tony Popovic will hope Federico Piovaccari's strike in Friday's 3-0 win at Melbourne City will spark the Italian, as Western Sydney have generally struggled for goals.

But with five of their next seven games at home, the Wanderers could build some significant momentum.

Federico Piovaccari celebrates after scoring his first goal for the Wanderers.

Newcastle Jets

Scott Miller has done a great job turning last season's wooden-spooners around in 2015/16.

The Jets have become tough to beat - a worthy asset - and they have some solid imports in the likes of Mateo Poljak, Enver Alivodic and  Lee Ki-je.

Miller's main concern seems to be a lack of X-factor and he will be sweating on the results of scans on Leonardo's leg this week.


Wellington Phoenix

At their best, the Phoenix can be one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the A-League.

Roly Bonevacia and Roy Krishna are key to Wellington's swift attacking forays, plus Albert Riera is one of the best defensive midfielders in the league.

But the New Zealand-based club remain flimsy at the back and are the only top-six club to have conceded over 10 goals this season.

Roly Bonevacia celebrates after scoring against the Reds.