Michael Marrone has bitter memories of his last trip to Perth – a 3-0 defeat that brought a shuddering close to the Melbourne Heart’s inaugural finals campaign last season.
Add to that the 5-0 pre-season battering from Ian Ferguson’s men, and Heart is not short of motivation to pull off a result at nib Stadium on Sunday.
Full-back Marrone remembers all too well the feeling of desolation in the dressing room after Shane Smetz's second half hat-trick left a sour epilogue to the two-season reign of John van't Schip in an elimination final he would like to forget.
Smeltz won't be there this time as he sits the game with a hamstring injury, which is a boost to Heart with Marrone determined not to suffer any more anguish in the west.
“I remember that elimination final for all the wrong reasons,” he said. “We just didn’t perform that day, didn’t do ourselves justice and the atmosphere in dressing room afterwards was pretty low.
“We all had our heads down and nobody wanted to talk. None us knew what to say, it wasn’t a good feeling at all.
“Perth also gave us a bit of hiding in the pre-season and we know all too well what they are capable of. We want to show them that we can play a bit too and what we are about.”
Marrone doesn’t buy into the argument that Ferguson’s side is more bruising than beguiling and is only too willing to embrace the rough stuff.
“I have heard people describe them as over-physical but I wouldn’t read too much into it,” he said.
“Players like Jacob Burns are always criticised for being too physical but for me it’s just part of his game and Perth’s game and it doesn’t bother me.”
With a new coach and a clutch of new faces – including Socceroos midfielder Vince Grella – Marrone contends Heart – which has four points from its opening two games garnered from the 2-1 win against Victory and 1-1 draw against Wellington Phoenix – is tactically similar to last season but is an overall fitter unit.
“Even with 10 men in the last 30 minutes against Wellington last week, we aware still full of running and that’s a plus for us,” he said.
“Richard Garcia is quality and he’s settled straight in the team in midfield with his composure on the ball and we also have the leadership qualities and skills of Fred with big Dylan Macallister up front starting the season really well.
“I personally feel we have a nice combination of youth and experience.”
Marrone believes new mentor Aloisi had a perfect tutor in Dutchman Van't Schip in the coaching craft.
“He’s made a few tweaks here and there but it’s more case of continuing along the way path for us," Marrone said.
“We are a club built on the right principles and a club a lot of players want to come to – and that doesn’t surprise me.”
The 25-year-old could jump into contention for an all home-based Socceroos squad for December’s qualifiers for Australia's inaugural entry into the East Asian Cup.
The tournament runs from December 1 to 9 in Hong Kong and does not fall on official FIFA dates, thus necessitating a squad sprinkled with A-League players.
The Socceroos will face qualifying competition from Chinese Taipei, Guam, Hong Kong and DPR Korea. If successful Australia win join Japan, Korea Republic and China in main draw.
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan, defender Pedj Bojic and midfielder Oliver Bozanic look to have played their last games for Central Coast Mariners as the A-League champion faces a raft of departures.