What. The. Hell.
It's hard to put into words just how incredible last night was, so we're glad that so many of you were there to witness that for yourselves so we don't have to do it justice - not that we could anyway.
You've likely watched the highlights countless times already (if we're to put a number on it, let's go with seven times), so we'll skip over the goal summary and just dive straight into it.
Here's what we learned from probably the greatest night in City history:
The balance is shifting
Melbourne Victory are in turmoil.
Manager sacked, a ‘captain’ set for a long stint on the sidelines, an NPL-level squad packed with nobodies and a fairweather fan base currently either scrambling to abandon ship or perhaps in the process of preparing another ‘the line has been crossed’ banner which they’ll march up to Gosch’s Paddock sometime next week.
Though only anecdotal, the overwhelming sentiment from last night’s game was that it was the first time that the City faithful have outnumbered Victory’s navy blue cohort at AAMI Park, perhaps reflecting that the off-field dynamic is shifting as much as the on-field.
Only once has a side won three consecutive Melbourne Derbies – Victory between 2014/15 and 2015/16 – but the fact that the attendances from those games were roughly 40K, 50K and 40K begs the question of where Victory’s once-mighty supporter base have scurried off to.
City are one win away from restoring parity to the all-time Derby record, having already surpassed Victory for goals scored in the fixture, and A-League historians could look back at this two-year period as the beginning of a massive shift in balance in regard to the footballing battle for Melbourne.
When we published our list of the 20 greatest players in Melbourne City history in April 2020, Jamie Maclaren was named at #11, falling into an awkward category of players that were obviously destined for the top five but who hadn’t yet been at the club long enough.
Now with 53 goals in his 55 appearances in all competitions for City, Maclaren well and truly has the runs on the board to be considered in that top-tier bracket, but after his five-goal performance last night, we’re thinking he’s on the way to taking the #1 spot outright.
He’d have to surpass the likes of Aaron Mooy and Jess Fishlock for that, but another 5-10 goals to his name – by which time he’d have scored the most in City history – and a Premiership and/or Championship by the end of the 2020/21 season would make it just about conclusive in our eyes.
Tilio and Cola are making waves, but what does that mean for Noone and Nabbout?
There’s little doubt about the now-proven quality of our young backup-winger brigade, with the pair combining for three assists between them in last night’s demolition and each boasting a goal and two assists overall.
Whilst City fans have only had minuscule sample sizes in regards to the pair each having played less than two full games’ worth of minutes, there’s an argument to be made for Tilio and Colakovski to be rewarded with inclusions to the starting lineup sometime this season, even if that opportunity were to arrive once City have mathematically wrapped up the title, for instance.
Depending on how that goes, it’ll be interesting to see what happens post-season, with the contracts of both Craig Noone and Andrew Nabbout expiring come season’s end. No doubt that’s an entire talking point in itself or perhaps a discussion for a future pod episode, but the race to be City’s starting wingers in 2021/22 looks set to be a fascinating prospect.