No-one likes a first-round bye, but it means that the Newcastle Jets have had an extra week getting things right on the training pitch.
With a full week of football gone by and some teams with points under their belts, the Jets will be the last team to get their season underway.
A midweek trip to Melbourne awaits, and here are five things to watch ahead of Thursday night’s clash with Victory.
Unbeaten in three
Before the beginning of the 2016/17 season, the Jets had only beaten Melbourne Victory twice in 12 games.
Two seasons ago, things turned around in a big way. Newcastle is now unbeaten in their last three matches against Victory.
What’s more encouraging is the record on the road – the last two times the Jets played Victory in Melbourne, they picked up 3-1 and 4-0 wins.
Two new international faces
While there have been a number of departures from the Jets over the off-season, there have been two big ins: Larissa Crummer and Taylor Smith.
A ten-time USA international, Taylor Smith has looked electric in both training and trial matches in the lead-up to Thursday’s season opener.
Larissa Crummer is with her fourth Westfield W-League club since making her debut with Sydney as a 22-year-old, but with a bigger point to prove than ever.
Turning things front to back
Crummer came to prominence as a crafty goal-scorer, even winning the Westfield W-League 2015/16 Golden Boot as Melbourne City’s main woman.
But after a recommendation from Westfield Matildas boss, Alen Stajcic, Crummer has reinvented herself as a centre-back.
It’s a huge switch for any player, and Crummer will be plying her trade in the backline with one eye on the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Youngsters in line for debut
Some exciting news out of the Jets camp in the lead-up to the season was the promotion of three youngsters from the Academy into the first-team set-up.
Renee Pountney, Tessa Tamplin, and Paige Kingston-Hogg have all signed contracts for the upcoming campaign.
It’s a glowing reflection on the work of the only W-League academy in the country, and given they’re all local girls expect them to give 100% for the shirt if given the opportunity.
Four in a row for Deans
If it’s job security you’re after, then becoming a head coach may not be the job for you. It’s a role famous for high turnover rates – and sometimes for good reason.
One man who’s managed to buck the trend is Newcastle Jets Head Coach, Craig Deans, who’s entering his fourth season as the helm as the league’s current longest-serving head coach.
After a tough slog the first two seasons, Deans finally cracked the finals in 2017/18. With a swag of quality signings this season, can he go two in a row?