Sydney FC defender Alex Wilkinson expects the Reds to come out firing at Coopers Stadium on Boxing Day after they signalled their intent to become the side to end the Sky Blues' unbeaten start to the season.
The defending champions have been far from their best this season but boast a proud home record against the Sky Blues, having not been beaten at Hindmarsh since February 2012.
While a whopping 21 points currently separates the teams on the ladder heading into the clash Wilkinson has cautioned the result is far from a formality for the league leaders.
“I think they’re a team that you definitely can’t underestimate,” Wilkinson told reporters on Saturday.
“Obviously they’re the champions from last year, they won the double.
“I guess they’re not in a great position at the moment but I don’t think where they are probably reflects the team that they’ve got and the team that they can be.
“They’ve had a few injuries and some players have come back into the team in the last two weeks that are very important for them so we’re expecting a very difficult game especially at home at Hindmarsh.
“They’re always very hard to beat there, you look at some of their past results and they’ve always been very close games against teams who are right up the top of the table.”
Neither side could find the back of the net when the two sides last met just a month ago in Round 8 - the only goalless stalemate so far this season.
While Adelaide arguably had the better of the chances that night Graham Arnold’s side have continued to edge closer to the Reds’ premiership crown – something Wilkinson puts down to Sydney’s team spirit.
“When you start the season well the confidence grows and grows, winning or not losing can become a habit and I think that’s where we’re at at the moment.
“The boys are a pretty resilient group and good mates both on and off the pitch and I think that togetherness definitely helps especially in games when things aren’t going well.
“Like on the weekend you go down one nil but then 30 seconds later we’re up the other end scoring.
“That sort of shows that never die, never give up attitude and the togetherness that we do have in the squad and I think that goes a long way to doing well in the A-League.”