Central Coast coach Phil Moss says his team are fired up to silence their doubters when they play in-form Sydney FC on Saturday.
The A-League's defending champions struggled at home against a dominant Melbourne Victory last weekend and most considered the Mariners lucky to escape with a 0-0 draw.
Central Coast have taken four points from their first two matches under new coach Moss and enter the round in sixth, but with a game in hand on all the teams above.
Moss accepts his charges need to lift for the game in Gosford against a Sydney FC team boosted by their club-record four-match winning streak.
"They are obviously coming up here with plenty of confidence and they've got a bit of a roll on," Moss said on Friday.
"But really what I'm looking for tomorrow night from our boys is a reaction.
"The world has been against us this week. We've copped a lot of criticism for our performance last week.
"There's a lot of pride in that dressing room.
"I know the boys are very fired up tomorrow night to show what they are capable of."
Moss hinted at a couple of possible changes with Zach Anderson and Nick Fitzgerald promoted to the squad.
Sydney will give a first start to Serbian striker Ranko Despotovic, who has scored two goals in his first two appearances off the bench.
Despotovic replaces the injured Alessandro Del Piero, while former Mariner Pedj Bojic will return to the Sydney side after suspension.
"Losing Alessandro is a big loss for our team, but Ranko is coming in and he's had a good start to the year," Sydney defender Matt Jurman told AAP.
He said he hadn't noticed much difference to the Mariners' style since Moss took over from Graham Arnold.
"They are still a strong unit. They are very compact in defence and they try and get you on the break," Jurman said.
"We've got to be careful of that and make sure they don't have those opportunities in the game."
The Mariners are unbeaten in six matches against Sydney, beating them 7-2 at Bluetongue Stadium last season.