MELBOURNE Victory coach Ange Postecoglou still believes that his struggling former club, Brisbane Roar, remains the litmus test for every team in the A-League.
So for his present charges to play the champion off the park for long periods speaks volumes about how far Victory has come in a short time, Postecoglou says.
To support his point was the fact Roar goalkeeper Michael Theo was being credited after the match with a string of top-drawer saves while Victory custodian Nathan Coe spent most of the game unemployed.
''I thought the first half hour was as good as we have played all year and the second half was good as well,'' he said after the 1-1 draw in front of more than 17,000 fans at AAMI Park.
''We conceded a soft goal, but our football was great, we created a number of opportunities. It was a step forward for us which was important.
''It's two points dropped but I liked the way we played. I am trying to beat myself up about it but I can't - I liked the way we played. They are still a good team and they still try and dominate games. I can't remember 'Coey' making a save. The goal [we conceded] was a bit disappointing.''
This was a total contrast to the first time these two teams met this season, when Brisbane humbled Victory 5-0 on Postecoglou's first trip back to Suncorp as a rival coach.
For long periods on Saturday night Victory controlled the tempo and shape of the game in a manner reminiscent of the way the Roar, under Postecoglou's tutelage, used to boss other teams during its two championship seasons.
But defensive weakness, which has unhinged Postecoglou's side often this campaign, remains and it was the same on Saturday evening as a set piece gave the visiting side the opportunity to take the lead against the run of play.
It was unlucky, perhaps, given that the defence held up well for the rest of the game but it is just that sort of lapse that can mean the difference between a top-two finish or a scramble into the top six.
Postecoglou reshuffled his rearguard, bringing in teenager Nick Ansell for his A-League debut. The youngster had a solid game and won the praise of his coach.
''Nick Ansell was good, safe, comfortable, he certainly didn't look out of place. Maybe we have found another player,'' the coach said.
''Michael Theo pulled off two or three outstanding saves for Brisbane today which suggests to me that our attacking play was pretty decent. We scored a cracking goal, 'Millsy' [Mark Milligan] was fantastic. I think our attacking structure is good.
''We are working hard to fix our defensive frailties and I thought tonight in that respect was a step forward.''
While most Victory fans and A-League pundits have forecast the 2012-13 season to be a year of rebuilding for Victory, Postecoglou insists that his goal is to bring the title back to Melbourne in his first season. Nothing he saw yesterday has shaken that belief.
''I won't accept anything less than winning the whole thing. It's a really tight league so we wanted to win today to keep in touch with the top two,'' he said.
''But if we just focused on that we would be missing the real goal, which is for us to continually develop our game so that when it does all click and it gets to the business end of the year and we are amongst it, we are playing some good football.''