There are plenty of football haters in Australia. But hub football has proven a surprise hit, showing why the A-League is both an underrated competition and one suited to winter.
Despite a wretched lead-in with travel arrangements, lingering COVID concerns, foreign players departing, and a four-month hiatus, the A-League came in with low expectations.
But the games have been coming thick and fast, with the cooler conditions contributing to some eye-catching A-League quality.
The storylines, goals, and drama have caught the eye - and A-League players clearly look like they’re enjoying themselves being back on the park.
The race for an A-League finals spot remains wide open while City and the always entertaining Phoenix are in a battle royale for the crucial second place behind Premiers Sydney FC.
And it’s been Australian players and coaches leading this renaissance.
This was embodied in a fast and furious top-two A-League clash between Sydney FC and Melbourne City on Saturday.
Relentless pressing, incisive attacking thrusts, coupled with action at both ends.
Both sets of players shone in a game of high quality.
Sydney’s Socceroos keeper Andrew Redmayne and midfielder Adrian Caceres stood out. And Socceroo striker Jamie Maclaren again delivered for City.
If this was a grand final dress rehearsal, then the A-League's big day will deliver.
And kudos go to A-League behemoth Melbourne Victory.
Under interim Victory boss Grant Brebner, the A-League powerhouse has used the hub to work on longer-term plans, giving a host of younger, Australian players a chance to play senior A-League football.
Adelaide United have arguably been the story of the hub.
Under interim coach, former Socceroo and A-League history maker Carl Veart, the Reds’ resurgence has been beautiful to watch.
In particular, Adelaide's stunning 5-3 win over Perth Glory was terrific viewing.
Youngster Pacifique Niyongabire weaved his way through for his maiden A-League goal for the Reds in just his second appearance, with a sublime celebration to match.
It summed up the joy in the United camp these days.
With a squad of mostly SA talents, their recalibration under Veart shows why Australian coaches can at times be a smarter option for A-League clubs both now and into an uncertain future in Australia.
Likewise, the unlikely finals surge of the Jets is another storyline that’s giving the A-League a lift.
Two wins from as many games keep Newcastle’s A-League finals dream alive.
What's more, Western United’s Connor Pain could well be back in the Socceroos with his form, while teammate Max Burgess is a potential Socceroo of the future after he continued his goalscoring form against Victory.
To cap it off, on Monday night, the Mariners and a young Victory put on a five-goal classic in Sydney.
Aussie Dylan Ruiz-Diaz, 19, the hero for the Mariners in a comeback 3-2 win.