Western Sydney Wanderers recruit Milos Ninkovic has produced a match-defining performance to ensure a 1-0 defeat of his former side Sydney FC in a hotly anticipated A-League Men derby.
Solid starts from both teams to the new campaign laid the groundwork for an exciting cross-town fixture - and Ninkovic's off-season defection ensured a bitter one.
A dual Johnny Warren medallist during his seven seasons with Sydney, Ninkovic became only the seventh player to represent both sides in the Sydney derby and was met with a chorus of boos every time he touched the ball at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
The Sky Blue faithful unfurled a tifo claiming "Legends are cherished, traitors' legacies will perish" and rejoiced when their pantomime villain blew a golden chance at point-blank range midway through the second half.
But Ninkovic redeemed himself only minutes later by connecting with Kusini Yengi, who shot straight into the back of the net to give the Wanderers something to show for multiple early chances.
Wanderers coach Marko Rudan was impressed by Ninkovic's ability to shrug off a week of headlines and stand up to the Sydney-dominated crowd of 34,232.
"Every one of his teammates knew what was going on this week and if he had put his head down and was hiding when the game was starting ... the players would have seen that," Rudan said.
"The fact that he did the exact opposite was the reason we won the game. He was superb and everybody followed him.
"It's exactly why we brought him to the club."
Sydney FC goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne made it through his last game before the World Cup unscathed, the match's loan Socceroo blocking a shot from Brandon Borrello in the 34th minute that was the Wanderers' best chance to that point.
But Redmayne saved his finest moment for the second half.
Sulejman Krpic crossed to Ninkovic, who had a clean sight of goal, but hesitated and then thundered his strike straight into Redmayne's arms.
The Sydney FC crowd erupted as their captain triumphed and their former favourite son faltered.
But it was Ninkovic who had the last laugh by setting up a goal that had members of the Red and Black Bloc storming the pitch at the Randwick end.
Sydney continued to have opportunities - most notably spraying two shots over in quick succession just before added time - but the Wanderers held on.
"We had a couple of chances that we probably could have done better towards the end," Sydney coach Steve Corica said.
"It was a tight game, like we expected. It was physical.
"It was what the derby should be all about. Fantastic crowd, we're just disappointed with the goal and with the result."
The Wanderers' first win at Allianz Stadium in nine years hoists them into second place on the ladder, where they will remain until the A-League Men competition returns from its World Cup hiatus in December.
Sydney FC, meanwhile, are winless in three outings at their refurbished home ground and could drop out of the top six before the World Cup break.