Midfield enforcer Mark Milligan believes Ange Postecoglou has instilled the same championship-winning qualities in the Melbourne Victory squad as he did in his back-to-back title-winning Brisbane Roar sides.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's derby with Sydney FC at AAMI Park, Milligan said Victory's newfound ability to grind out results – as they did with a 1-0 win in Perth last weekend – was a telling sign of the team's development into a potential title winner.
"I think it's a squad that has championship characteristics," Milligan said.
"We try and play a passing game but last week in Perth we really dug deep, it was a hard trip over there.
"Eight or nine weeks ago if we had of played like that we would have copped three or four (goals).
"It was nice to get three points but was disappointing the way we went about it so we'll be looking to redeem ourselves this week."
Victory trail league leaders Central Coast by five points and Adelaide United by two, ahead of crucial home clashes with Sydney and rivals Melbourne Heart.
Victory have not lost at home since their 2-1 defeat to Heart on the opening day of the season, while Sydney were buoyed by last week's 7-1 win over Wellington Phoenix, in which star man Alessandro Del Piero bagged four goals.
"We've had some really good results over the past few weeks and we really need to continue that over the last 10 games," Milligan said.
"They've (Sydney) had a couple of positive results in the last few weeks ... so obviously they want to get on a bit of a roll as well, the ladder is very tight.
"We just need to shut them down in all areas and make sure we get the three points on the weekend."
Andrew Nabbout scored two goals late on as Victory came from 2-0 down to win a memorable clash in what turned out to be Ian Crook's last game in charge of Sydney in November.
But with Del Piero in stunning form and Jason Culina and Joel Griffiths now having an impact for Sydney, Milligan said Sydney would provide a far greater threat than last time.
"On the weekend they showed with Joel Griffiths coming in and (Jason) Culina and (Brett) Emerton, especially in that final third they're very, very dangerous – they've got quality all across the pitch," he said.
"I don't think Del Piero would have had those chances he did if it wasn't for the quality around him.
"He's an unbelievable player, but unless the players around him are chipping in it's difficult for him."
With the match already sold out, the stage could be set for the Victory's trio of recruits – Francesco Stella, Scott Galloway and Jesse Makarounas – to make an impact with Julius Davies released, Gui Finkler injured and Theo Markelis and Isaka Cernak on the outer.
"Obviously, Ange has shown that if they come in and fit into the system then that's what will happen," Milligan said.
"They're three very talented young players, I've only trained with them the last two days but they look to have settled in pretty well."