Mark Rudan was beaming with pride after his pre-season insistence on strengthening Wellington Phoenix's culture bore fruit in Saturday's fighting 0-0 draw against Adelaide United.
Wellington extended their unbeaten streak to six matches despite losing midfielder Mandi to a red card in the 68th minute of a spicy contest at Coopers Stadium.
Filip Kurto made seven saves as the visitors weathered 32 shots, their defensive resilience lifting them four points clear of seventh-placed Newcastle Jets.
"Tremendous spirit, tremendous courage, determination. Their discipline was superb," Rudan said of his players.
"It's a massive point in the scheme of things and another huge step forward as far as I'm concerned.
"In seasons gone by this team would have lost. The club has done that in the past. I'm extremely proud of them.
"[In pre-season] we worked a lot on a team culture, an environment.
"I know some coaches decide to do it maybe halfway through the season when things aren't going well, but it was a massive thing we worked on really, really early to make sure we understood who we were, what we were, what we were about going forward, and I think now those signs are starting to come out."
Marco Kurz, whose team have won just one of seven Hyundai A-League home matches this season, was less enthused, intimating that Adelaide must afford less respect to visiting sides.
"At the end, in the box, you need a killer instinct," Kurz said.
"It’s not easy to play against Wellington. They play with a very defensive line-up. They came here to defend and wait for maybe one or two corners.
"We had control in the game but we need to show opponents that Coopers Stadium is ours. They can come and fly back without points.
"[I'm] not disappointed but I think [we have] to show them 'we are Adelaide United, c'mon, they have no chance here'."