What do Australia's best NPL coaches have to do to be taken seriously by the A-League? Surely it's not punditry...
It was 11 years ago that Mark Rudan captained and Steve Corica scored as Sydney FC became the inaugural A-League Champions.
'The Big Blue Man' himself, Rudan could have been coaching the Sky Blues after he was heavily linked with the role following the announced departure of Graham Arnold. Instead, Sydney chose an insider appointment in the hopes of continuing Arnie's legacy.
With Sydney third after seven games, it's still a seemingly solid appointment. Yet there are significant weaknesses emerging; Sydney's football has bordered on tepid at occassions, so often resorting to direct balls that have died at the small stature of Adam Le Fondre.
Despite Sydney's team oozing quality and Le Fondre among the competition's best goal-getters, whether Corica's insistence that the solution to Sydney's problems is another striker seems doubtful, especially with such stagnant structural inadequacies across both the defensive and midfield lines.
On the other hand, despite Rudan's hit-and-miss start at the troubled New Zealand club, there are a slew of contradictory positives. Wellington have been largely competitive, progressive and aggressive this season and their recruitment on a shoestring budget has been exemplary.
Rudan's diehard approach to training, even sending the players on a preseason 24-hours-without-sleep boot camp, foreshadows an interesting and unique mentality for the 43-year-old.
It's slivers like this into the inner workings of Wellington that suggest the sort of outside of the box thinking that comes with a different path to A-League coaching.
Facing each other for the first time as the competition's up-and-coming Aussie coaches - Rudes with four years and two NPL Championships at Sydney United, Corica involved with Sydney FC in assistant and caretaker roles since 2010 - the two coaches provided an interesting comparative for the question; which is better coaching experience, NPL head or A-League assistant?
There were three stark reasons for the former at Kogorah.
It was a case of first you get the club's goal record, then you get the citizenship, then you get the brace for Fijian-Kiwi sensation Roy Krishna, who opened the scoring with two clinical efforts, before Steven Taylor once-again affirmed the worth of a marquee centreback with the third.
Sydney pulled one back in the final minutes through a scrappy conversion by Michael Zullo but it flattered to deceive; Sydney were battered by their own structural inadequacies. It was perhaps telling that the referee originally blowed for full-time with a couple of minutes remaining.
Sydney are showing stagnant problems across both the defensive and midfield lines: the reintroduction of Siem de Jong and Danny de Silva just couldn't come early enough.
"We've just got to be winning the second ball," a livid-looking Corica said at halftime. "They've been doing it all season but they're not doing it now."
But Rudan's domination of the Sky Blues bodes a deeper question; how many fragmented clubs, riddled by the sort of politics that have plagued Wellington, would have enveloped their coaches' best efforts, destroying promising careers in the process?
As a former NPL coach first and a pundit and A-League legend second, Rudan has a huge responsibility. The opportunities that were never given to the likes of Dean Anastasiadis, Chris Taylor, Mark Crittenden and Arthur Papas are likely already lost.
The next generation of Australian coaches, however, still hang in the balance.