Melbourne City will be without club captain Michael Jakobsen for Friday night's A-League semi-final with Newcastle after he succumbed to a quad injury.
The Danish centre back couldn't train on Thursday and saves manager Warren Joyce a gut-wrenching selection decision with his absence.
As it stands, Osama Malik - a Joyce favourite that plied his trade in midfield all season until a recent injury of his own - will continue in defence, allowing City to field an unchanged line-up against the Jets.
While it's saved Joyce a selection dilemma, it's not good news for the club or player.
"It's disappointing for us and frustrating for the lad," he said.
"He's had such a good season (playing in) nearly every minute of every game and he's been asked to play several different positions and sacrificed himself for the team throughout the season."
Joyce said there were other players carrying "bangs and bruises" but history was on the line.
In eight A-League seasons, City haven't reached a grand final.
This will be their third semi-final and shot at making the decider, all coming in the past four years under City Football Group's ownership.
But Joyce said he wasn't using that or City's fine record in Newcastle as motivations during the week.
Joyce has led his team to the Hunter twice this season and won both matches, which he views as "immaterial" given it's a knock-out game.
Unless, that is, the Jets are worried.
"That's for them to be scarred by, isn't it?" he said.
"We've beaten them twice at their ground and we've drawn once at ours but it's a one-off game tomorrow.
"Whoever is desperate to win that fight comes out winner at the end of it. We've got to be just as hungry or hungrier than we've ever been this season."
Both sides carry serious attacking weapons.
The Jets are expected to field Ronny Vargas, Roy O'Donovan, Dimi Petratos and Pato Rodriguez in a dangerous XI, while City will have goal phenom Bruno Fornaroli and next-gen wonder Daniel Arzani.
Joyce said Arzani's fitness had progressed to the point where he could handle a 120-minute slog if the match went to extra time.
"He's doing the full demands of the job for whatever minutes it takes," he said.
"He has broken his own records continually this year, and broken probably the high-speed records of a lot of the wide players in the league.
"He has progressed a hell of a lot."
STATS THAT MATTER
* Melbourne City have a fine record at McDonald Jones Stadium. They've won on both visits this season and on four of their past five trips.
* Either way, a grand final drought will be broken - the Jets haven't been in the decider for a decade while City never have.
* Dimi Petratos will make his 150th A-League start. He ranks second in the league this season for chances created, behind only Leroy George.