Benched for Melbourne City's breakthrough A-League Men grand final win, Ben Garuccio wants to play a key role in ensuring Western United emulate that feat.
Garuccio won the premiership-championship double last season as Scott Jamieson's deputy then moved across town in search of more game time.
The 26-year-old has played a key role at United under John Aloisi, with a career-high 27 starts at left-back ahead of Saturday's decider against his former team.
"It's obviously a little bit different because I knew that with all being well, within the team last season, I probably wasn't going to start the game, which is always a little bit different," Garuccio told reporters.
"But for me, my preparations never really changed too much. I always prepare like I'm going to be used because you just never know there could be an injury or, or someone's sick, anything can happen in football.
"I always try to prepare the same and I'll be doing the same this week, you never know what can happen.
"I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch, but I'm hoping to play a big part this Saturday.
"I'm friends with a lot of those boys, but come Saturday, there will be no friendships for that 90 or 120 minutes."
Garuccio said Aloisi's United had a point to prove after their rapid turnaround this season.
"No matter how you get there, when you're there and involved in the final day of the season, you're not just going to let that slip away," he said.
"It's so hard to even get into this position and it's full credit to everyone here, the players, the staff, we've worked so hard for this all year.
"We were written off before we even kicked a ball this year, we weren't tipped to make the finals by any of the experts.
"But we weren't really interested in what anyone else was saying, we were focused on what was happening here and that's had us in a good position throughout the whole year."
United had chances to pinch the premiership before slipping to third but Garuccio said that had strengthened their resolve.
"Our performances after that in the finals have been back to our best, back to the level we were playing at the start of the season," he said.
"We're in a really good spot going into Saturday."
And if the game drags out to penalties, the former City man is ready.
"I'll put my hand up," Garuccio said.
Australian Associated Press
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