'Double header, double defeat': Three things we learned - City vs Roar/Glory
On a day that looked full of opportunity initially, it instead became a day of despair as both of City's senior sides suffered defeats.
City's women showed grit and determination to fight back from two goals down only to agonisingly concede a late winner to Brisbane, while the men had very little to show for despite their domination (heard that before...) against a Perth Glory side who'd prove much more difficult to break down in the second period.
With no points taken from yesterday's double-header, here are the lessons we've taken away instead:
With his best performance to date, Tsubaki earns himself future starting minutes
Despite the final scoreline, City were the dominant team for large parts of yesterday's A-League match, with 14 corners and 19 shots telling you all you need to know about the balance of play (the vast difference in possession and pass accuracy only further emphasising the gap between the sides today).
We were often crafting attacks down the left-hand side, with Tsubaki playing brilliantly and delivering countless dangerous crosses towards Maclaren before the Japanese winger was substituted off for Tilio 10 minutes after the break. It certainly wasn't because of the former's performance, instead likely due to the need to get as many minutes into our young players as possible. With such a young team at City, it's vital we develop these players properly.
A lot of City fans, judging by comments on social media, didn't have the same perspective on the change and were asking why we took Tsubaki off when he was probably our best player, and I think they're asking the right questions - if we'd known how Perth would set up in the second half, it would have been different if he had stayed on for longer.
In the 54th minute of a game, you're not thinking the 20-year-old you've got on loan from Japan is going to be the sole difference-maker, and it's testament to Tsubaki's performance that we're able to say that in hindsight.
He may have scored, but Jamie's wasn't the Captain's performance we needed from him
In other circumstances, Jamie Maclaren would probably take his solitary goal and move on to the next fixture, but there's no denying that our striker should have had a much greater influence on the match than he did last night. The service that our striker was getting against Perth was some of the best he's had in a while and an in-form JMac would have come away from the encounter with two or three - and that's the thing: Jamie's not been in-form.
The 28-year-old hasn't had his best start to the season, blanking against Brisbane and Adelaide before burying two easy tap-ins in two games against Western United and Perth.
One can only imagine how the balance of the game may have changed if Maclaren was able to put away his early chances, but we can't afford for the absence of his usual ruthlessness to be costing us points for very long.
W: The team has shown considerable improvement thanks to new personnel, but is it too late?
Brisbane, alongside Sydney, were always going to be the benchmark in season 2020/21, so City fans should take some heart from our performance yesterday in which the players showed admirable resilience to fight their way back into the match after being 2-0 down.
It was a notable improvement on our Round 1 performance against the Roar, conceding 11 fewer shots this time around whilst also developing a long-awaited midfield fluency that enables us to develop goalscoring opportunities with greater frequency.
Noor Eckhoff's inclusion in midfield liberates Alex Chidiac from defensive responsibilities, but it was a surprise to see her operate in a midfield pairing alongside Leah Davidson in the second half, with Rado Vidosic switching to a 4-2-3-1 system that was the catalyst for our fightback.
The formation places less offensive responsibility on the shoulders of our full-backs, enabling the likes of Emma Checker and Tori Tumeth to play the position, whilst also finally seeing our star players (*cough* CHIDIAC *cough*) played in their most effective position - well, almost. The selection of (admittedly our most influential player) Chinatsu Kira as a makeshift striker continues to baffle, with the highly-deserving Harriet Withers not even making the starting lineup in yesterday's match, instead relegated to the bench. One can only hope that we soon see a lineup that involves Kira and Chidiac played in advanced midfield/winger roles providing quality service to Withers who'll spearhead our attack.