Melbourne City coach Erick Mombaerts wants his team to control Saturday night's clash with Newcastle Jets, but is wary of the A-League strugglers.
City thumped Newcastle 4-0 back in December but last week, the Jets showed improvement in their 2-1 loss to Sydney FC under interim coach Craig Deans.
It came just days after former coach Ernie Merrick was sacked.
"They have a new coach so in this situation maybe motivation changed but they did well against Sydney," Mombaerts said on Friday.
"Our first game (against Newcastle) was one of the best games we have played.
"Why? Because we started very well, we scored goals and we had good opportunities to scored - we controlled the game well."
Mombaerts insists his team have also improved since their first clash, but was quick to remind them about respecting their opposition.
The Jets have gone six matches without a win.
"We'll see (on Saturday), but we want to play our style so we respect Newcastle, we are sure that they will be ready to fight," Mombaerts said.
"They will be ready also to play a good game, but the most important (thing) is to concentrate on what we want to do on the pitch."
New recruit Markel Susaeta could make his A-League debut off the bench, while Harrison Delbridge returns from suspension and should slot in at centre-back.
City will be without Richard Windbichler (muscle injury) for a number of weeks, though they are hopeful Scott Galloway (ankle) could return next week.
Newcastle are without goalkeeper Glen Moss (calf) and defender Nigel Boogaard (adductor), while midfielder Matt Ridenton is away trialling with an English championship club.
Newcastle's Matt Millar said the Jets had gone back to basics under Deans, and will once again start as huge underdogs.
"I hope they do underestimate us because that just makes us want it even more. So if they want to do that, then good luck to them," Millar said.
STATS THAT MATTER
* City have won six of their past nine games against the Jets (D1, L2) and have only lost one of their past 12 against Newcastle at AAMI Park, with that loss coming back in October 2015.
* The Jets are winless in their past six matches (D1, L5). This is their worst winless run since a 10-match span (D2, L8) at the end of the 2016/17 season
* City's Jamie Maclaren has scored nine goals in 13 games against the Jets. He's only scored more against Western Sydney Wanderers (12).
Stats provided by Opta
Australian Associated Press