Sydney FC captain Alex Wilkinson is confident the Sky Blues will find their groove before the A-League Men season despite being dumped out of the Australia Cup by part-timers Oakleigh Cannons on Wednesday.
The Sky Blues lost 2-1 to the Victorian NPL side in the quarter-finals, ending their hopes of claiming the rebranded FFA Cup for the first time since 2017.
Sydney missed the ALM finals last year in a season ravaged by COVID-19, prompting significant change to their squad and a tactical overhaul from head coach Steve Corica.
"It's very disappointing because it was a good opportunity to progress to the semi-finals and potentially go on and get some silverware," Wilkinson told AAP.
"We put ourselves in a hole and then it's always difficult to come back against a side who defended very well.
"We shouldn't have put ourselves in that position and we probably looked a bit rusty, but that is something that will come with more games and the added fitness of week-to-week competitive matches."
Corica has sought to move the Sky Blues away from the traditional 4-2-2-2 system he has traditionally used, and into a more adventurous 4-3-3 shape.
Former Nottingham Forest winger Joe Lolley, Slovakian international Robert Mak and Jack Rodwell, who was cup-tied for the Oakleigh game, have all been recruited to the club as Sydney look for creative spark.
"We've played that similar style for a long period of time and it (the new system) is exciting," Wilkinson said.
"We feel it'll give us the chance to get forward quicker and score more goals but it'll take time to get everything right and I guess that's one of the benefits of having the longest off-season in the world.
"Obviously last year was disappointing as a club but it's a fresh start this year, especially coming back to the new stadium."