Moments from an elimination final victory in 2012-13, Perth Glory followed up with a campaign to forget last season.
A lack of direction and firepower, internal unrest and injury culminated in the Glory slumping to equal second-bottom on points, only avoiding the demoralising wooden-spoon by the narrowest of margins.
The new season sees a playing roster almost unrecognizable from that of last year, a variety of former A-League foes, returning Australians and international imports coming together in attempting to rejuvenate the club.
As aforementioned, season nine of the A-League was nothing short of a disaster for the Glory, both on and off the field.
The board was forced to make a decision in December between manager Alistair Edwards and captain Jacob Burns, with the two at loggerheads over the formers controversial youth policy.
Burns led a playing-group revolt against Edwards, made more complicated by the fact that that group included two of the Edwards’ sons.
Once the club decided to dispose of Edwards, things failed to greatly improve; new manager Kenny Lowe saw the club sit on the bottom of the table for five weeks in the final third of the season.
The Glory also found the net the least of the all comers. The clubs season total of 28 was 5 short of second last, with seasoned professionals Shane Smeltz and Steven McGarry topping the goals chart with just four apiece.
Defensively they did fare a little better, their 37 goals conceded less than that of Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC, both teams who played in the finals.
The club also failed to benefit majorly from its international marquee.
The Glory chose to spend their dollars on highly decorated French Centre-Back William Gallas.
Whilst his pedigree was amongst the greatest to grace the A-League, his performances showed otherwise.
The Frenchman fluctuated with indifferent form, occasionally impressing, just as often not.
A farcical attempted clearance on the last line against the Wanderers in round 20 that resulted in a goal that did him cause no favours.
Gallas’ time in Perth will be remembered as solid, yet ultimately fruitless.
Credit must go to Lowe for his ability to muster some positives from the back end of the season.
Two wins in rounds 25 and 26 saw the club escape the wooden spoon, and young talent such as Jack Clisby, Chris Harold and Jack Duncan all showed their capabilities at various points, and all three will play a part in 2014/15.
Home Form v Away Form
Glory suffered some serious travel sickness last season, picking up a miserly five points away from home in 14 attempts.
The Western Australian side drew with Newcastle and Wellington early on, but they had to wait until January for their one and only road-win, a 2-1 triumph over the Jets.
At home they fared markedly better, 3-0 and 4-2 victories against the Heart and Phoenix respectively the highlights. Glory were also never blown away in their home defeats, two 3-1 losses the highest the margin was ever stretched. The fact that they only scored 3 goals or more in a match twice is testament to their travails up front.
Perhaps slightly surprising was the fact they managed 10 goals on the road compared to 18 at home, especially considering two of these home goals were own goals, giving them a goal difference of +6 at home when compared with themselves away.
Perth conceded a respectable 13 at home, compared to a leaky 24 away, the clubs overall goal-difference of -9 was more consistent with their home form.
The Glory has been perhaps the busiest of the bunch in the off-season, particularly early on in the transfer window. Adding depth and quality in essentially all areas of their list, with the attacking group looking far more convincing than this time last year.
The clubs signed five players from last seasons A-League rosters in Nichols, Hersi, Garcia, Zadkovich and Ferreira, and have lured defender Dino Djulbic back to his former club from the UAE.
Perhaps most pivotal to their chances will be marquee signing Andy Keogh. The Irishman will lead the line, filling the void left by the prolific Shane Smeltz.
At just 28, Keogh has plenty of good football left in him, in fact this could be considered his prime, and has demonstrated his immense quality already. Three goals in two FFA Cup matches for the former Wolves man have the Glory fans hoping they have found the talisman they longed for last season.
• Danny Vukovic, goalkeeper, returning from loan at Vegalta Sendai
• Dino Djulbic, defender, from Al-Wahda S.C.C., two year contract.
• Youssouf Hersi, attacking midfielder, from Western Sydney Wanderers, two year contact.
• Ruben Zadkovic, midfielder, from Newcastle Jets, two year contract
• Andy Keogh, striker, from Milwall, two year contract
• Richard Garcia, midfielder/striker, from Sydney FC, two year contract
• Diogo Ferreira, midfielder/defender, from Brisbane Roar, two year contract
• Mitch Nichols, on loan from Cerezo Osaka, one year contract
• Ryan Edwards, midfielder, returned to Reading FC at completion of loan
• Jacob Burns, midfielder, retired
• Shane Smeltz, striker, released, signed one year contract with Sydney FC
• Adrian Zahra, released, signed with Valletta on two year contract
• Travis Dodd, midfielder, retired
• Steven McGarry, midfielder, retired
• Dean Evans, midfielder, 3-month injury replacement deal expired, returned to Stirling Lions
• Darvydas Sernas, midfielder/striker, returned to Gaziantepsor at conclusion of loan
• William Gallas, defender, released, currently free agent
Full Perth Glory squad, squad numbers listed in brackets.
• Goalkeepers: Danny Vukovic (1), Jack Duncan (18)
• Defenders: Jack Clisby (2), Dino Djulbic (6), Joshua Risdon (19), Scott Jamieson (21), Michael Thwaite (23)(Captain), Matthew Davies (24), Riley Woodcock (25).
• Midfielders: Brandon O’Neill (3), Rostyn Griffiths (5), Youssouf Hersi (7), Ruben Zadkovic (8), Nebojsa Marinkovic (10), Richard Garcia (11), Diogo Ferreira (13), Sidnei Sciola (16), Mitch Nichols (17), Danny De Silva (20), Cameron Edwards (22).
• Forwards: Andy Keogh (9), Chris Harold (14), Jamie Maclaren (15), Harry O’Brien (26).
Perth has taken to Australia’s new cup competition with aplomb; they find themselves in the quarter finals at home to Melbourne Victory next month.
The clubs easily surpassed top-flight opposition in the round of 32, an impressive brace to Andy Keogh giving the side a 2-nil away win to Newcastle.
Making the victory all the more impressive was the absence of veteran defender Michael Thwaite and front-half livewire Youssouf Hersi, an early indication of depth that was non-existent at stages last season.
The second match provided even less issues. The side again travelled and, despite conceding a penalty, steamrolled St Albans four goals to one in Victoria.
Glory will play three matches before their October 29 clash with Victory; two of these matches will be away, including one extensive flight to Wellington.
Their second trip away, just three days before the FFA Cup clash, is in Adelaide, being the shortest trip they could have hoped for.
Victory have less travelling to do, a home game four days before the FFA Cup tie cancelled out by the fact they must travel to Perth.
Considering all these points effectively neutralise each other, the match can be viewed in isolation. Given they will be at home, Perth sit in the box seat to advance.
Where will the Glory finish? If it was the apparent quality of a clubs squad alone that decided results, nobody would deny that Perth would be one of this seasons favourites. However, as this is not the case, the campaign may play out a little differently.
Whilst the players have proven their quality individually, they may take some time to gel as a group, similar to the teething problems faced by Adelaide United last season.
Kenny Lowe has the backing of the club at the moment, but is yet to prove anything substantial in this competition. Lowe showed last season that he could grind out results with mediocre players and low-expectations.
He now finds at his disposal a squad brimming with talent, and is expected to set the pace for the league. If this season doesn’t go to plan, particularly after the opening phase, the clubs heavyweights- and the player- can prove to be fickle.
After some initial hiccups Perth will become a force in the competition, particularly if they can utilise the home-ground factor, a benefit they hold over every other side bar Wellington.
Winning the FFA Cup is also not outside the realms of possibility, particularly as they have been drawn a home quarter-final.
Predicting such an eventful league is never an easy task, particularly before the season has even started, although I see Perth returning to the finals, finishing in the bottom half of the top six.