Midfielder Nicky Carle said Sydney FC must raise the bar this season and grab a top-two finish if the club is to claim its first A-League championship since 2010.
Sent packing in the finals at the first hurdle by Wellington Phoenix last season, after an underwhelming fifth place finish, Carle admitted the Sky Blues of 2011-2012 lacked cohesion and consistency.
But he is convinced the elevation of Ian Crook to main man will herald the dawn of a new age of achievement – and entertainment – from a club desperate to re-establish itself among the A-League elite.
"I am a big believer that you have to be in that top two to make a big play of it in the finals," the fringe Socceroos playmaker told The World Game.
"There are always teams outside the top two that can make a run as you saw with Perth Glory reaching the grand final from third last season but usually the table doesn't lie after 28 games.
"The higher you finish the more confidence you take into the finals and with a double chance it just makes the job a lot easier.
"I think we have the players to achieve that – but time will tell."
Carle admitted Sydney made it hard for itself last season.
"We came back from two goals down against Wellington in our elimination semi-final but then we conceded a penalty and that was it for us," he said.
"We've had a big turnover in players since and we have new coach. Ian Crook's got the ear and the respect of the players and you are going to see a different style from us this season."
The injection of speed provided by Panama attacker Yairo Yau, Joel Chianese and Mitch Mallia is a key component of Crook's plan to bring lustre back to the legs of a team chastised for its lack of movement and urgency last season.
"Last year we did well in patches but we had no consistency," Carle added. "A big part of that was that we didn't have a defined style of play.
"When Brisbane play you know what you are going to get but with us when it was good it was good when it wasn’t it was poor.
"We know the way we want to play now and it's up to us to implement that. It's going to be about keeping the ball but keeping it with a purpose and going forward at every opportunity.
"It's no secret that the boss wants us to play with speed whenever possible.
"If you are playing effective and winning football it is usually easy on the eye, as Brisbane have shown in the last couple of years.
"I think the majority of wining football is good football and that's what we’re aiming for."
In Carle's view the entry of cross city rival Western Sydney Wanderers this season makes it even more vital the Sky Blues to excel.
"That will concentrate the mind more for sure," he said.
"This is an absolutely crucial year for the club. We really have to push on and do well. Simple as that.
"Having that rivalry will be great also and we're already looking forward to round three of the competition when we meet.
"As a club we've had an eight year head start on the Wanderers and we have to make that count."
The appointment of Englishman Crook as successor to Vitezslav Lavicka gets a big tick from Carle.
"His sessions have been amazing. He's a very smart and educated coach and I always felt when the club was looking for a coach to replace Vitezskav Lavicka we already had one of the best under our noses," he said.
"“I think in the past Crooky was happy to play his part and maybe he didn't want the top job. But he is ready now and he this is the right time for him."