This season's Melbourne City bear little resemblance to those flaky sides of the recent past.
The Light Blues are made of sterner stuff - more durable and hard to break down - and it's all down to the team ethic and desperation instilled in a short time by new coach Warren Joyce, says club captain Michael Jakobsen.
If a player has to get hurt to protect his teammates or prevent a goal, then he will, Jakobsen says.
"If you have to block a shot with your face, then that's what you have to do."
The Dane, who is ostensibly a centre-half, has been employed in an unfamiliar central-midfield role this season, indicative of the emphasis on accountability stressed by Joyce in the opening month of the campaign.
Jakobsen admits that his side are winning ugly and could be a bit more ambitious and cohesive in the forward third of the pitch.
But the proof of the pudding is the league table, and as City prepare for what Jakobsen says will be their sternest test, a Friday night blockbuster against Sydney FC, they sit atop the league, the only club with a 100 per cent record.
Reduced to 10 men for half an hour, under the cosh from the home team Adelaide United and defending a two-goal lead, the City of last season (or any other, for that matter) might have folded and left South Australia with only a draw in their round-four match last Saturday night.
That they didn't is a good indicator of their prospects this Friday, when they face a team that has lost only once in the league in more than a year.
"It's a good start. We know that we can still improve a lot in our game ... I think the most difficult match until now is coming up," Jakobsen says.
"The focus is more on the defensive part, keeping a clean sheet - the boys are fighting not to concede goals ... but we need to improve on the offensive part.
"I think we are in a good state with him [coach Joyce]. We are with a lot of new stuff, especially about keeping a clean sheet, sacrificing yourself for the team."
For some clubs, four games might not be truly indicative of where they sit on the league table. But Jakobsen believes that City can be much better when the likes of Fernando Brandan and Bruno Fornaroli return to peak fitness.
"We need a combination of the way we kept the ball last year and the defensive part we have shown this year, but I think we already know where we are at. We are going to be hard to beat because the organisation in the team is very good."
Jakobsen's move to midfield was not expected, but the captain says he has enjoyed it - even though he might be deployed at left-back this weekend to cover for the injured Scott Jamieson.
"It's an unusual position, but I quite like it, it's quite fun ... I have really enjoyed it. I was excited [to be moved into midfield]. I like challenges and this is a new challenge. When I was 12 or 13 I was playing centre-midfield, but I have not played there at senior level.
"Now I have to look over my shoulder all the time. I really rely on the boys behind me talking all the time, or the guy next to me."