A refreshed Melbourne City have revived their stuttering A-League campaign by exacting some revenge on Sydney FC with a hard-fought 3-2 victory in their grand-final rematch.
After last playing 16 days ago, City jumped the reigning champions with first-half goals to star striker Jamie Maclaren (eighth minute) and Adrian Luna (28th) which set-up Tuesday night's victory at AAMI Park.
But the party was far from over for City despite Maclaren looking to have sealed the victory in the 54th minute when he put away his second goal after taking advantage of some untidy Sky Blues defence.
However, Sydney FC got going in the second half and gave the hosts some nervous moments when Patrick Wood (90th minute) followed up fellow substitute Milos Ninkovic's 72nd-minute goal.
City looked far more like the team that made it into extra-time in the club's first grand final last year rather than the one that entered the match 10th on the table with six points from their first six games this season.
Their third victory of the season took some heat off coach Patrick Kisnorbo, who has had the difficult job of following up Frenchman Erick Mombaerts' outstanding one-season stint in charge.
"I think we controlled the game, created a lot of chances and played some really good football," Kisnorbo said.
"We showed some good stuff and know we need to be consistent in trying to replicate that as best as we can."
Despite controlling possession, nothing went right early for the Sky Blues as they slumped to their second loss in a season where they are aiming for a historic third-straight title.
Sky Blues skipper Alex Wilkinson was handed an early yellow card on a night when he became the fifth player to bring up 300 A-League appearances.
Just minutes later, midfielder Luke Brattan slammed his head on the ground after contesting a high ball.
The 30-year-old lay motionless on the pitch for several minutes before walking off the field and taking no further part in the match.
Sydney FC coach Steve Corica said his team probably did not deserve to finish as close as they did.
"That wasn't us in the first half. (City) came out hungrier, they were winning every challenge and everything was falling to them," Corica said.
"This is probably the first time I've said this but we were probably outclassed in that first half."
City are back in action next Tuesday against Western Sydney, while the Sky Blues have to quickly bounce back before facing Macarthur FC on Sunday.