Forward thinking ... For Australia, this is all about the future. Photo: Getty Images
Necessity is the mother of invention, as Holger Osieck, the Socceroos coach, is fast discovering.
Osieck fielded an experimental side against South Korea in a friendly last week with a better-than-expected result when the youngsters came away with a 2-1 win.
And with virtually all of his European and Middle East-based players unavailable for the East Asian Cup qualifiers in Hong Kong next month, Osieck has dipped into the A-League supply basket - with fascinating results, especially for those looking for clues as to the shape of Socceroos squads when the last remnants of the golden generation are finally pensioned off over the next couple of years.
For the first time in what seems like living memory, stalwarts Mark Schwarzer and Lucas Neill are not in the line-up, with Russia-based Luke Wilkshire (whose season is in winter recess), Sydney's Brett Emerton and Melbourne Victory's Archie Thompson by far the most experienced men in the squad.
But for those who are excited by the shock of the new, there is plenty to look forward to as Osieck leads his squad through a whirlwind four games in nine days.
The opposition should not be too taxing, given that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Guam have little history as giant killers. However, North Korea, the final team in the five-nation group, might be a different matter. The hermit kingdom has emerged as a significant power in Asian football, and qualified for the 2010 World Cup, although their heavy loss to Portugal rather dimmed the lustre of their achievement.
For Australia, this is all about the future. Osieck admitted on Thursday when announcing a 25-man squad - which will be trimmed to 20 after a get-together in Sydney next week - that he could not afford to experiment too much while trying to qualify for the World Cup.
But a tournament like this is a different matter, especially as his big guns are not available.
So the likes of Sydney's Terry Antonis , Melbourne Heart products Eli Babalj, Michael Marrone and Aziz Behich, Brisbane's Ben Halloran, Matt Smith and Ivan Franjic, China-based Rostyn Griffiths and Dino Djulbic, Newcastle's Adam Taggart, Central Coast's Tom Rogic, Western Sydney's Aaron Mooy and Adelaide's Osama Malik, who have played either once or not all for the national team, are given an opportunity.
Also included are some players getting a chance to restate their case as candidates for coming World Cup qualifiers, such as Melbourne Heart's Richard Garcia, the 31-year-old former English Premier League midfielder who has impressed since returning home to play in the A-League this season.
Pim Verbeek once relied on an A-League-based squad in Asian qualifiers with almost disastrous results, when they drew 0-0 with Indonesia and lost at home to Kuwait, but Osieck doesn't expect a similar outcome this time.
''These games are a good opportunity for the boys I have listed here,'' he said. ''We have been travelling every weekend and watching matches and identifying potential players, and we think they are up to the job. It will be a valuable experience for them. They show some promise, but we have to make it perfectly clear that they are not stars in the Socceroos yet, but they are talented players.''
Osieck retains his confidence that the Socceroos are in a good place from which to qualify for Brazil in 2014. They are second in their group behind runaway leaders Japan, with a game in hand and three of their last four matches at home.
Osieck said any complacency that crept into the squad before the shock loss to Jordan had been eliminated. ''That's over. There were some very clear messages [after that],'' he said.
AUSTRALIA: Terry Antonis, Eli Babalj, Aziz Behich, Robbie Cornthwaite, Dino Djulbic, Ivan Franjic, Brett Emerton, Eugene Galekovic, Richard Garcia, Rostyn Griffiths, Ben Halloran, Scott Jamieson, Osama Malik, Michael Marrone, Matt McKay, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Mat Ryan, Matt Smith, Adam Taggart, Archie Thompson, Michael Thwaite, Dario Vidosic, Luke Wilkshire