A-League Men champions Melbourne City have fought past a gallant South Melbourne to seal a 3-0 win and a ticket to the FFA Cup round of 16.
A crowd of 4291 packed Lakeside Stadium for former NSL powerhouse South's first FFA Cup round of 32 appearance since 2017.
But Connor Metcalfe's 23rd-minute goal and Scott Galloway's second-half brace ensured City's first competitive match since June's grand final triumph ended in victory, a week out from their season opener against Brisbane Roar.
"It was professional, we created some good chances, we controlled the game really well," coach Patrick Kisnorbo told reporters.
"It's about the minutes today and getting everyone through pretty much unscathed and I think we did that tonight.
"I was just happy with the professional performance that we showed and the attitude by the players for 90 minutes."
City were commanding from the outset against the NPL club and peppered South's goal without reward for the opening 20 minutes, with the highlight a long-range effort from skipper Scott Jamieson that just curled off target.
South defended resolutely but their resistance could only hold out for so long.
In the 23rd minute Galloway slipped through Nathaniel Atkinson, who cut the ball back to Metcalfe to slot a well-worked opening goal
City maintained their dominance throughout the opening half, controlling the bulk of possession, but failed to capitalise on the scoreboard.
South Melbourne, who hadn't played a competitive match since their NPL season was brought to a premature end by Victoria's COVID-19 lockdown in July, were lively out of the break and were inches away from equalising in the 53rd minute.
Marcus Schroen's brilliant curling free kick brought the crowd to their feet and forced Olyroos goalkeeper Tom Glover to pull off a brilliant fingertip save to stop the ball nestling in the top corner.
The scare jolted City into action and in the 66th minute, Aiden O'Neill worked a clever through-ball past the South defence for Galloway, who smashed home City's second from a tight angle.
Seven minutes later, Florin Berenguer picked out a surging Atkinson, who cut the ball back for Galloway to slot his second and seal the victory.
City's starting line-up featured nine of the 11 starting players from June's grand final victory.
Andrew Nabbout, who came off the bench for the Socceroos on Thursday night before being dropped from Graham Arnold's squad on Friday afternoon, was originally named a substitute, but pulled out shortly before the game.