After what felt like an eternity in waiting, Melbourne City finally made their return to competitive football in the Round of 32 of the FFA Cup.
A Connor Metcalfe strike on the 23rd minute and a Scott Galloway second-half brace proved too much for the NPL outfit, as City emerged comfortable winners in front of a bouncing Lakeside Stadium.
With the first match now out of the way, and the A-League Men's season kicking off in less than a week, we take a look at three things we learned from last night's fixture.
New Season, Same City
The key to City’s footballing dominance last year was its football philosophy. The motto ‘anywhere, anyone, anytime’ resonated with each and every member of the playing group.
As per any championship side, there are always questions of a potential championship hangover. This was quickly put to bed before the match even started, as Patrick Kisnorbo fielded arguably his best 11 available on the night.
From the first minute, City looked determined, hungry and humble. Regardless of who the opposition is, City hold a deep respect for the opponent but play with a confidence and swiftness that is easy on the eye for all City fans. This mentality ensured City were dominant the entire game, occupying over 80 percent of the possession and keeping South Melbourne from really ever finding a foothold in the game.
The commitment to the cause regardless of the strength of the opposition shows the buy-in the players have to this philosophy of football and is sure to fill many a fan with confidence for our upcoming title defence.
No one walks into this XI
It’s safe to say City fielded a starting lineup last night that was capable of going toe to toe with even the best the league has to offer. What’s more impressive is that City were without stars Leckie, Maclaren, Nabbout and new import Pucciarelli.
Last night saw our younger players again take an opportunity with both hands. Atkinson, Colakovski and Tilio were all threatening, whilst Galloway - whose position in the starting XI this season is under threat - netted his third goal in his last two competitive matches.
Whether it was calculated and patient build-up, balls over the top or charges down the wing, South never looked settled and City never looked lost for ideas.
Performances like that will ensure that places in Melbourne City’s first XI will be earned on merit and not name alone. Patrick Kisnorbo will be left pondering how he can get the most out of so much talent; out of all the footballing dilemmas to exist, PK will surely be happy he's got this one.
Youth have a role to play
A staple of City football has always been youth integration. This was emphasised last night as four players under the age of 22 (Stokes aged 18, Lesiotis 21, Borges Rodrigues 18 and Bos 19) were all subbed on to see out the last 10 minutes of the game.
Giving minutes to younger members of the playing group has always been a struggle for managers, but this seems to be one the City coaching staff are willing to overcome, as a deep faith in their ability was shown to get the result over the line.
Just how much youth we will see this year remains yet to be seen, but they aren’t just making up numbers and will most certainly have a role to play throughout the upcoming season.
Whether it was the continuation of last year’s footballing philosophy, our extensive range of attacking prowess, or the introduction of some fresh faces, last night provided a lot of cause for excitement. The new season is here, and it seems City have picked up right where they left off.