Glory went down 1-0 to Victory at Dorrien Gardens on Tuesday night, although Perth were relatively blunt in attack until Diego Castro’s introduction on the hour.

Goals loom as an issue for Glory with Irish striker Andy Keogh out injured and in doubt for the start of the season, while Adam Taggart left for Brisbane Roar in the off-season.

Veteran Brendon Santalab has been added but attacking options appear thin, with teenager Daniel Stynes starting up front against Victory.

Popovic has also introduced a new system with a five-man defence requiring some adjustment, although he felt his side performed well against Victory without getting the result.

“Overall I didn’t think there was much in that,” Popovic said. “We’ve made progress. Certainly there were patches of very good football.

“It takes time. We could’ve easily been sitting here now, still telling you it’s going to take time and we’re taking baby steps but we’ve gone through.

“There wasn’t much in the game at all.”

He added: “In a short space of time we’ve introduced trying a new system. We had young players in (Brandon) Wilson, two young kids up front (Stynes and Jacob Italiano), they’re trying to implement what we want.

“It’s a big game for them against the champions and we’ve exposed some young players to a very competitive game.

“I thought it was a very solid display against a very good opponent who knows how to win.”

Castro’s introduction sparked Glory’s best chances of the game, with the 35-year-old showing he’ll still be a major player in the 2018/19 A-League season.

“He came a bit later to pre-season,” Popovic said.

“We were always confident he’d make an impact regardless of what’s happening in the game.

“He brought that quality that he has and calmness. He helped us create some more opportunities in the final third.”

Glory will now head to Malaysia for a training camp which includes a match against local club Sarawak.

“We would’ve liked to have gone through,” he said. “Now we’ve got to find some competitive games.

“We’ll have to plan our pre-season in terms of getting games to get us ready for Round One. That’s always been the aim.”

“We’re disappointed we’re not through but we know it’s not the end of the world and we’re making progress.”