Melbourne Victory have officially ended Western United's faint A-League finals hopes in humiliating fashion after recording a 6-1 win over their rivals on Friday night.
The game played behind closed doors due to Melbourne's COVID lockdown, Victory raced to a 4-1 halftime lead before adding two more through Elvis Kamsoba and Jacob Butterfield in the second. A first-half penalty from United's Alessandro Diamanti provided his side's lone semblance of resistance.
The thrashing represents coach Mark Rudan's side's sixth straight loss and completes a stretch that has seen them go from almost finals certainties to being mathematically eliminated with two games to spare; the United boss indicating that a time of introspection at the club was now forthcoming.
"Everyone's playing for their future, it's as simple as that," said Rudan.
"You find a lot about yourself, everyone associated with the club when you go through nights like this.
"It's a big reset that's required, that's for sure.
"Sometimes you've just got to assess things and sit down and say 'OK, this is where we're at and this is where we need to be'.
"It's all about looking towards the future right now.
"I daresay (squad changes are) absolutely important. There are players there that are fighting for their futures. We've got to take a good reset and have a good look at where we're at."
Securing a first-ever win over United, Victory is scheduled to face Melbourne City at Marvel Stadium next Sunday.
Jake Brimmer opened the scoring with a sweetly taken half-volley in the 12th minute of the contest, before Adama Traore's overlapping run and cross in transition found Rudy Gestede for a second in the 22nd.
A run and cutback from Ben Folami found an open Kamsoba in the 33rd before the former swanned into the United area and blasted in at the near post to make it four just three minutes later.
"We were very passive in that first half," admitted Rudan.
Some all-too-easy combination play between Callum McManaman and Kamsoba after a Diamanti turnover set up their side's fifth in the 50th and Butterfield completed the rout with a surgical top-corner strike in the 82nd.
"We've been knocking on the door," said Victory caretaker Steve Kean.
"We've been creating plenty as of late and not grabbing them, tonight we did."