Wanderers lose element of surprise
Even if Western Sydney had already earned the respect of A-League rivals, captain Michael Beauchamp believes they've now got their full attention.
While the rookie club's gallant efforts in the opening rounds earned many admirers, few predicted they were capable of pulling off their shock 1-0 win away over reigning champions Brisbane Roar last week.
Beauchamp believes the club's memorable first win has made every team sit up and take notice, ensuring the Wanderers won't be underestimated as they head into Friday night's clash with Melbourne Heart at Parramatta Stadium.
"I think a few more people are going to be looking at us now I suppose with a bit more urgency," Beauchamp said.
"We were putting in some good performances from the first game but unfortunately the ball just wasn't going in for us.
"But to get that first three points I think is fantastic for the club.
"Our form's been good the last few weeks so now there's no excuse to let that level drop and hopefully we can maintain that."
Friday night's match represents the first occasion the Wanderers will enter a match considered favourites, with the Heart coming off back-to-back losses.
It also pits a pair of rookie coaches against each other with Western Sydney's Tony Popovic facing his former Socceroos teammate for almost a decade, Heart coach John Aloisi.
"I'm looking forward to it," Popovic said on Thursday.
"We'll both be trying to get one over each other on Friday but I certainly wish him the best throughout the year."
Popovic could face one of the toughest selection calls of his short coaching career with striker Dino Kresinger (hip) some chance of returning from injury.
That could mean dropping the man who impressed in his absence, Joey Gibbs, back to the bench but the coach is keeping his cards close to his chest.
Popovic is tipping further improvement from star signing Shinji Ono, who continues to get valuable game time under his belt after almost a year between competitive matches.
As Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey have made spectacular starts to their A-League careers, with three and four goals respectively, Ono is somewhat the league's forgotten marquee man.
The Japan star is still searching for his first A-League goal but Beauchamp said that didn't mean his contribution hadn't been significant.
"Whether he scores or not .. he's definitely helping us out," Beauchamp said.
"He's creating a lot of chances, he's getting on the ball a lot and he's been a great addition to the team."