Sydney FC are drawing confidence from the knowledge Melbourne Victory usually bring the best out of them as they prepare for Sunday's A-League semi-final.
Sydney FC head into Sunday's A-League semi-final against Melbourne Victory buoyed by a history of the defending champions coaxing the best of them.
The Sky Blues headed home from South Korea on Wednesday following a 1-0 Asian Champions League loss to Ulsan Hyundai, which ended their hopes of advancing from their group.
They arrive back in Sydney on Thursday morning looking forward to the fourth Big Blue of the campaign, having been eliminated by Victory at the corresponding stage of last season.
Victory won the first two clashes of this season 2-1 in matches in Sydney and Melbourne, with the Sky Blues triumphing by the same score in their most recent meeting at the SCG.
"We've probably played our best football in those three games, which is a real confidence booster heading into this," Sydney midfielder Brandon O'Neill told AAP.
"The last time we played them I think it was one of the best football games we've played all year, we dominated and created a lot of chances."
O'Neill said the Sydney players were in good spirits as they prepared for the long trip home and a clash at Jubilee Stadium.
"Now it's full steam ahead, recovery," he said.
"What we eat, what we do in the next 36, 48 hours is massive to make sure we get ourselves as tip-top as we can do for what is a massive semi-final."
Fortunately the squad were booked in first class and had access to steam room and sauna facilities when making stop overs en route to Sydney.
Those luxuries pleased the durable O'Neill, the only Sydney outfield player to have started all 37 of their competition games across the A-League, FFA Cup and Champions League.
He has only missed just over half an hour's action due to being substituted three times in A-League games, but is relishing rather than buckling under the workload.
"I really thoroughly enjoy it ... I worked really hard in the pre-season," he said.
Melbourne left virtually all of their star players back in Australia and rested them from their Asian Champions League game against Daegu in South Korea on Wednesday.
Sydney will also be able to call on up to four fresh key players, who were left behind in Sydney.
Coach Steve Corica substituted playmaker Milos Ninkovic and left back Michael Zullo just over an hour into Tuesday's game and leading scorer Adam Le Fondre with around 15 minutes to go.