SYDNEY FC goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic believes playing ugly is a good way to erase the awful memories of last season's A-League grand final loss to the Melbourne Victory.
The Sky Blues will get their first chance for redemption in the Big Blue Derby at Allianz Stadium tonight.
The harbour city club was comprehensively beaten 3-0 in last season's title-decider.
But it has displayed added starch in defence in recent weeks, keeping Newcastle, Western Sydney and Brisbane to clean sheets over the past four rounds.
The goalless draw against the Roar was criticised as a dour contest, but Sydney coach Graham Arnold declared afterwards that defence wins championships.
All the talk of playing ugly does not faze the Sydney players though.
After the Sky Blues' defence went missing in last season's finale, the players made a vow not to be dominated like that again.
"It wasn't a nice feeling losing the grand final. We've got another chance to get one back this weekend," Janjetovic told APN. "A key message from Arnie is to make sure our defence is strong and to keep clean sheets.
"Sometimes you'll get a result like the one we had against Brisbane though; that's just part of it."
Part of that collective vow has been the team's attitude at each training session.
"If you come watch us train, you will see how competitive we are - each player is fighting for a spot," Janjetovic said. "We're running into each other hard each session."
While the bitterness of last season's grand final defeat still rankles Janjetovic, he said his team had not prepared any differently for arguably the league's fiercest rivalry game.
"Every game is important and we try to prepare for every team the same way," he said. "The Victory has some unbelievable attacking players, though, and they're one of the best teams in the league. We have to stick to our game plan and do what works for us."
The Victory has a huge task away from home. - captain Carl Valeri is suspended after receiving a red card in the FFA Cup final last Saturday, while Jason Geria, Connor Pain, Scott Galloway and Giancarlo Gallifuoco are away with the Olyroos.
Nick Ansell (foot) and Archie Thompson (knee) are injured, so coach Kevin Muscat is promoting Dylan Murnane, Jesse Makarounas and youth-team players Kieran Dover and Stefan Nigro.
And winger Kosta Barbarouses is on his way to Sydney from the Middle East, where he was ruled out of New Zealand's friendly against Oman on Friday morning (AEST) due to an abductor injury.
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