VICTORY skipper Kevin Muscat is fit and fired-up for Friday's inaugural clash against Melbourne Heart, scoffing at suggestions the derby is 'just another match'.
While some of his team-mates have been happy to play down the importance of the match, 37-year-old Muscat, who has recovered from an ankle injury to take his place in the starting line-up, wants the Victory's cross-town rivals to know he means business ahead of the match.
"I'll probably go against what most players will say 'it's just another game'. I don't think it is," he said. "Try and say that to our fans and our supporters.
"If you are here tomorrow, you will witness what it is going to mean to them. I'll be going out there knowing it means something different to me.
"To get off to a good start and to be in the history books as the first team to win a derby, that's going to be the aim. I'm certainly looking forward to it."
In typical Muscat-style, the inspirational Victory leader wants his team-mates to recognise that this is the foremost match on the league calendar and they need to be ready for the same intensity they have experienced in A-League finals and the AFC Champions League.
"You look to these games all around the world," he said. "All the derbies are a derby because of the geographics. We've created a rivalry with Sydney, that's developed over a number of games.
"But there's no doubt this game gets a head start, because there are two teams in one town. This game here automatically gets billed as the derby and for me it will be the pinnacle of the A-League."
Coach Ernie Merrick is convinced his skipper is 100 per cent fit for the match but said that even if Muscat was still struggling with the injury, he would have had a hard time preventing his skipper from running out on the park.
"It's one of those games where our senior players in particular really want to play," Merrick said. "There is no way I could have stopped Kevin from playing even if he was injured.
"He's fit and training really well."
Experienced Victory pair Carlos Hernandez (calf) and Grant Brebner (toe), who are both carrying injuries, are also pushing for selection with Merrick rating them both a 70-30 chance of playing.
He added: "Grant Brebner has trained a little bit today. He hasn't been doing a lot out on the pitch, but he'll be a fitness test. Again, I'm having trouble stopping him playing. Carlos is in the same boat.
"I'm confident that for this sort of a game that they'll all come up for it. The attitude in the camp has been fantastic they all want to play.
"This is a historical game, a true derby match and we've virtually got a full squad to pick from."