Melbourne Victory are back in business, but the A-League champions find themselves in the thick of a ladder logjam as the competition's contenders and pretenders start to emerge.
The season's first Big Blue promised plenty and didn't disappoint, with serial menace Besart Berisha bagging two goals as he led Melbourne's entertaining 4-2 win over Sydney FC on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium.
It was a rematch of last season's grand final and a reminder that the improved Sky Blues still did not have the Victory's measure, having failed to beat them in their past seven attempts.
Coach Kevin Muscat said his side weren't out to make a statement, but it sure felt like one, delivering their arch-rivals their first loss of the new campaign.
"We were exceptional," Muscat said.
"There was a lot of talk during the week. Fortunately for us, we've built a culture where we do our talking on the park."
The Victory move to third place on 10 points - tied with the round's big winners, Western Sydney and Wellington, as well as Newcastle, whose bubble seems to have burst after conceding an injury-time equaliser from Central Coast substitute Matt Sim in the F3 Derby.
Sydney FC are second, two points behind Brisbane, who move to the top of the table after edging Perth on Sunday in a tight 1-0 win.
But there are huge question marks over Melbourne City and Adelaide United, two sides many had pegged as top-six certainties.
John van 't Schip and Guillermo Amor might have both been world-class players in their heyday but their coaching tenures are under increasing scrutiny as their teams struggle to find any sort of rhythm or consistency.
City remain as infuriating as ever, having backed up last week's impressive win in Adelaide with a limp 3-0 loss at home to the Wanderers, who have strung together three wins in a row and are one of the A-League's form teams.
Adelaide's defence, meanwhile, continues to leak. Their 4-2 loss to the Phoenix at a heaving Westpac Stadium has ratcheted up the pressure on Amor, who is yet to taste victory as a senior coach.
But it was a top night for football in New Zealand, with more than 13,000 fans coming out to throw their weight behind the 'Save the Nix' campaign, which seems to be gathering momentum.