Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic expects Melbourne Victory to break out of their funk and be challenging for honours at the pointy end of the A-League season.
The pressure is rising on new Victory coach Marco Kurz after guiding his side to just one win and two draws from seven games.
It's left the Victory in 10th spot ahead of Friday night's pivotal clash with Glory at AAMI Park.
Perth have also endured a slow start to the season, with Popovic's men posting just one win and three draws from their first six games to slide to seventh.
But the blowtorch is far more intense on the Victory right now, and Popovic expects the perennial title contenders to bounce back.
"Melbourne Victory is probably with Sydney FC as the biggest club," Popovic said. "They're a massive club that at the moment is underachieving.
"I certainly know they're a club that I still expect to be at the pointy end of the season when it gets to the end."
Popovic guided Glory to Premiers Plate honours in his first season in charge of the Perth-based club.
But things haven't gone to plan this season, with injuries and late arrivals hampering Glory's cause.
Perth were thumped 3-1 by Sydney FC last week, but Popovic was at least enthused by the number of chances his team created in that game.
He feels it's just a matter of time before the goals go in, and he's embracing the hard questions being asked of the team.
"By our points compared to last year (we) are seen to be underachieving ... these questions and expectations are fair on us because of what we achieved last year," Popovic said.
"We want to be that club where we have the media questioning 'why is it not the same as last year?' as opposed to being content with where we're at, because that's what everyone was accustomed to at Perth Glory in the past."
Glory are already nine points adrift of second spot, and they can't afford for that gap to widen if they are to be serious title contenders.
"It's not a point of we don't care where we are on the table - of course we care," Popovic said.
"But we also put things in perspective. When you're playing poorly, you know you're a fair way way. But we're not playing poorly."
Glory defender Osama Malik (hamstring) will miss a third straight game, but fellow centre back Alex Grant is expected to slot back in after serving his one-match ban.