Canberra United coach Heather Garriock had to think outside the square as cashed-up clubs recruited the best domestic and international players in the W-League.
Garriock has just one Matildas player on her 2019-20 roster while the football powerhouses of Melbourne and Sydney are stocked with international flair.
Rival clubs with A-League ties are paying more than Canberra can afford for marquee signings.
That's why former Canberra players Ellie Carpenter went to Melbourne City and Denise O'Sullivan signed with the Western Sydney Wanderers.
United have instead built a squad around Young Matildas captain Karly Roestbakken, who won the PFA Young Women's Footballer of the Year on Thursday night.
Roestbakken and five international players headline Canberra's new-look side, which has slowly come together over the past month.
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"I think it was really important to think outside the square for this season," Garriock said.
"To bring in four new players and from the NSW Premier League was really important. Some of those players like Ash Crofts is a really exciting player who is going to make an impact at Canberra United.
"Everybody is challenging for their position which is important going into the start of the season, especially for new players as they have to set a good example and impress very early."
Canberra has missed the finals in the past two seasons, with Garriock keen to build a robust side capable of causing upsets against the team's more fancied rivals.
The club unveiled another four domestic signings on Thursday, including former Perth Glory defender Patricia Charalambous.
The 25-year-old returns to the W-League after her second stint with Apollon Ladies FC in Cyprus.
Charalambous was a fresh-faced 18-year-old when she first signed with Cypriot club and featured in the European Champions League in 2013.
"It was crazy. I didn't think I'd get that far so early in my career," Charalambous said.
"I went over for a trial and everything happened so quickly, I was signed and training straight off the plan.
"It didn't make sense to me at the time because it happened so quickly but it was pretty amazing. It's an experience I'll never forget."
The four-foot-six footballer is set to face her former club in the league's opening weekend next week, with Canberra hosting Perth Glory at McKellar Park on Sunday, November 17.
"I'm looking forward to representing Canberra and being part of an amazing squad," Charalambous.
"I can't wait for our first game, it will be a good hit out against my former club Perth Glory.
"They've always had a strong team and from when I was there, they were really fit, fast and could play good football.
"It'll be a good match but we're looking really good at the moment and we're trying to build this bond as a team."
Garriock's side will have their final practice match against a local side this weekend, giving new players a chance to find their rhythm ahead of the season-opener.
Canberra are set to announce their remaining signings next week, including two international players.
"Our internationals bring different spices to the team. That was the objective, ringing different players in," Garriock said.
Meanwhile, the Roestbakken-led Young Matildas will meet South Korea in a third-place playoff in the under-19's AFC Championship on Saturday.
It will be Australia's last chance to secure a spot next year's under-20s World Cup in Nigeria, with the top three teams earning qualification for the tournament.
CANBERRA UNITED SIGNINGS: Karly Roestbakken, Elise Thorsnes, Nikola Orgill, Shamiran Khamis, Annalee Grove, Taren King, Olivia Price, Laura Hughes, Hayley Taylor-Young, Jessie Rasschaert, Leena Khamis, Katie Stengel, Simone Charley, Patricia Charalambous, Emma Stanbury Ashlie Crofts, Rebekah Horsey.