Every year I seem to make the call too early that the Mariners are looking the goods to make the finals, at last. They have a couple of okay results - then a couple of battling losses (where they still played well) - and then the wheels fall off.
And I look like an idiot, more so.
So how do I feel this year as they sit proudly atop the table after two wins from two starts?
Well, if everyone had played two matches I might have a little more confidence. Perth haven't played at all and several traditional Big Guns have only played once. And one or two of those Guns lost their only game so you'd have to say the table, at this point, is a tad on the misleading side.
Having said that, there are some clear positives for the Mariners.
Their two wins were a derby and an upset against the highly fancied Macarthur. The Mariners were just about favourites (despite recent history) against Newcastle given the Jets' front office problems and departures.
They were definitely not favourites against Macarthur (coming off a win against the Wanderers) but they won both games with a whole lot of grit, a solid plan and the emergence of some exciting new players.
But the grit and the plan (onfield at least) are very much inspired by an exciting old player. Ollie Bozanic has been overseas for seven years and returns with exactly the kind of professional game-smarts and skill not seen on the Coast since their Championship year in 2013. He's an obvious choice for captain.
At the back they have Mark Birrighitti who was in great form last year (stopped them coming even laster) and looks even better now. His contribution was significant in getting all three points against Newcastle.
I've also been extremely impressed with the defence. I really liked Ruon Tongyik at City and was surprised he didn't play more there. He was notably skilful coming forward with the ball and I'm keen to see that at the Mariners as his confidence improves. Surely his nickname will be "Jinnan".
Kye Rowles is also looking much more assured. He's always been strong in the air with a good passing range, but he's not the fastest centre back in the League.
This year he's added much better positional discipline to his game, plus a little bit of mongrel desperation. His combination with Tongyik, as it matures, could be the foundation of a strong season.
There are also a number of youngsters further forward who are adding significant value. Gianni Stensness has been excellent so far but the real eye-catcher has been Josh Nisbet. Quite probably the shortest player ever to log A-League minutes, his box-to-box energy and invention have been crucial to both attack and defence.
I love the way he never gives up on any situation, especially winning the ball back, but his creative running and passing cause a lot of problems for the opposition. His nickname should be "Ankle Biter".
Further forward is where it gets really exciting for Mariners fans. The likes of Jaden Casella, Jordan Smylie and Daniel Bouman all have pace and ability, and Alou Kuol has real presence up front. The availability of five subs this year means Alen Stajcic will be able to unleash waves of fresh attackers against tiring defences.
So many options for the coach is also a tonic for Daniel De Silva who, frankly, looked disinterested last year. He looks like he's desperate to keep his place. So too does Jack Clisby who looked average last season but hasn't put a foot wrong in this campaign. He looks a completely different player.
In summary, I think the biggest difference (on the park) is Bozanic. His combination with Stensness adds real steel in the middle of the park and his accuracy with forward passes means the fast boys up front get plenty of ammunition. He's also (with Nisbet) a source of intelligence on the park which all successful teams must have.
It remains to be seen how the availability of the three new foreigners (Urena, Jankovic and Janota) will affect the team, but the way the Mariners are playing already will make the first XI (plus 5) hard to break into. Stajcic has done (so far) a really good job in rebuilding and organising his team.
So, time for my prediction: will the Mariners make the top six in 2021?
They will go very close. If you take it as read that Sydney FC, Wellington, Melbourne City and Perth Glory will make the finals, that leaves two spots. I've been very impressed with Macarthur and Adelaide; Brisbane have some ability; Western United will be strong again and Victory have too much quality to leave out of the calculation. Add them all to the Mariners and you have at least six quality teams fighting for two spots.
One thing is for sure - it's going to be an interesting season.
Adrian's books can be purchased at any good bookstore or through ebook alchemy. His new novel, Welcome to Ord City, is now available.