Gold Coast United coach Miron Bleiberg says the high quality of the A-League has been proven again by his much-vaunted new German signing's first-game flop.
Ex-Bundesliga midfielder Peter Perchtold struggled in his United debut in a 1-1 midweek draw with Melbourne Heart.
But Bleiberg said while he was confident Perchtold was good enough to eventually make an impact, the coach said the A-League's improving quality now meant foreign players couldn't just walk in and star.
"He didn't play well - don't muck around and don't hide from the fact," Bleiberg admitted of Perchtold.
"But he came here and he felt lost, not because he doesn't have the ability, but because of the pace of the game.
"All these people that criticise and put the A-League down, as much as (Perchtold's performance) didn't work in our favour, it showed the quality.
"Whether he's from Spain or England or whatever, you can't come here and straight away adapt to the A-League.
"The A-League deserves the respect it deserves."
The competition's growing reputation as a feeder league and shop window for other more cashed-up competitions has also been felt by Gold Coast.
Defender Bas van den Brink announced on Thursday he would join South Korean club Busan I'Park at the end of the A-League season.
The Dutchman joins Adelaide United's Iain Fyfe at the K-League outfit, with Fyfe bound for Korea at the end of the month.
Van den Brink, a foundation Gold Coast player, said he was keen to extend his two-year stint but couldn't refuse a lucrative Korean offer.
"I've had a fantastic time at Gold Coast United and will miss the club, the fans, my team-mates and the area," the 28-year-old said.
"But the deal put forward from Busan I'Park was a very, very good one and I would be mad to turn it down."
Gold Coast must rebound from their midweek match for a crucial home clash with seventh-placed Newcastle Jets at Skilled Park on Saturday.
United will offer free entry to the match to aid the Queensland flood relief appeal.