Melbourne City coach Erick Mombaerts says his team must follow the example of A-League leaders Sydney FC in improving their mental strength.
City's big-game credentials have come under fire after losing to Melbourne Victory, then capitulating to a 10-man Sydney FC, with Friday's clash with Western United shaping as a crucial test.
"To be competitive, it's not enough to play good football - it's important also to have a good attitude, intense attitude, and the mentality is so important," Mombaerts said on Thursday.
"That is maybe the difference at the moment between Sydney FC and the others - they show they are strong, strong mentally - not strong in the style they play but they are strong.
"So we need to follow this way ... the style should be different but the attitude has to be more aggressive, more competitive, and more constant."
City's depth is set to be tested along with their attitude in coming weeks, with Connor Metcalfe, Tom Glover, Denis Genreau and Ramy Najjarine away on Olyroos duty.
Mombaerts was unsure whether City would look to the January transfer window to replace the quartet, but teenagers Stefan Colakovski, Yaya Dukuly and Moudi Najjar could earn senior playing time.
"Yes, we have four players away but they will come back and we don't know if they are coming back in a few days or maybe at the end of January. So it's difficult to manage this situation," Mombaerts said.
"So we can't complain because it's like that but it's difficult and also we bring (in) some young players and it's a good chance also for academy players to show they have qualities - but they are very young."