The Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season draw was revealed on Thursday and every club will be hoping to get off to a fast start in the new campaign.
With that in mind, we’ve analysed the first five games for each club and predict how they might go in the crucial early rounds.
Back-to-back home matches might lull some into thinking Adelaide United can ease into the season but the prospect of visits from Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets ensure they must be sharp from the outset.
Overcome those obstacles and the Reds can look forward to three straight matches against teams that finished outside the top six last season.
The last of those is a trip to Westpac Stadium, where they are unbeaten in four matches.
Brisbane Roar have an ideal chance opportunity to make a blistering start with last season’s bottom four making up the earliest opponents.
John Aloisi will certainly target six points from the two home games which kick-off the campaign.
A Round 5 visit from Melbourne City, the team that beat them in the Elimination Finals, might prove the yardstick.
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS
Mike Mulvey gets the chance to prove a point to former employers Brisbane Roar in Central Coast Mariners’ first-up road trip.
If he looks further afield, the Grand Final winner might pinpoint the Round 3 clash with Adelaide United at Central Coast Stadium as a clear chance to make strides.
Facing Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park appears less attractive in view of the 5-2 loss they suffered in the same fixture in 2017/18.
Melbourne City looked as though they might make last season their own until rivals Victory swooped in to snatch the glory.
They can put that right in the season-opening derby. Sydney FC also await a fortnight later.
Warren Joyce will hope his team are up and running by the Round 5 excursion to Suncorp Stadium, where they placed the marker of a team on the rise with a 2-1 win in February.
The reigning champions better be ready for action as they are thrown into a series of blockbusters inside the first five rounds.
Up first is the Melbourne Derby, two weeks later comes a Grand Final rematch in Newcastle and in Round 5 it’s a Big Blue in Sydney.
Home games against Central Coast Mariners and Perth Glory between those dates will be seen as opportunities.
Can Newcastle Jets compete for the title again? Two immediate away trips serve as a good test of their mettle.
The real challenge, of course, comes straight after those initial tests.
If they can exact revenge on Victory, Ernie Merrick’s men will look ahead with confidence to a Sydney FC side they beat so impressively in March.
All eyes will be on nib Stadium when Perth Glory and Tony Popovic host Western Sydney Wanderers in the opening round.
The new manager’s revolution won’t hinge solely on that game and he will want to be just as prepared for a clash with Victory the following week.
Home matches in Round 3 and Round 5 offer true chances to begin building a fortress.
Steve Corica’s reign at Sydney FC comes under the microscope early with four of his first five fixtures scheduled against members of last season’s top six.
The other is a Sydney Derby. Win that at the SCG in Round 2 and the former captain will endear himself further to the fans.
Corica will hope to build momentum in the opening-round match at Adelaide, a team against which they have not lost in six.
Mark Rudan’s makeover at Wellington Phoenix may well take time and he’ll need a handy amount of patience judging by an unenviable start to the season.
The well-spoken will hope his lessons are put into practice in the Round 1 visit from Newcastle Jets, while two more home outings should generate some excitement.
The latter, though, is against an Adelaide outfit they have only toppled once in 11 attempts at Westpac Stadium.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
New boss Markus Babbel can make himself a hero by masterminding a Sydney Derby boilover in what will be his second game at the helm.
It’s one of several tough tests throughout the opening five rounds, although the trip to Wellington may offer some respite.
Wanderers beat Phoenix 4-0 and 4-1 in their second two meetings last term.