DWIGHT Yorke insists the real Sydney FC will surface at Aussie Stadium tonight to all but seal a second-place A-League finish at the expense of the pursuing Central Coast.
In what is the crunch clash of the year for both clubs, Yorke claims that the lethargy evident in the drab draws against New Zealand and Newcastle will be replaced by a sense of urgency and a dose of potency.
Embarrassed by those performances, particularly the "dire" goalless dirge with the Jets at Aussie Stadium that sparked a cacophony of catcalls at the final whistle, he admitted: "That game was bad enough to watch, let alone play in.
"If I'm honest, it was dire and fans are entitled to voice their opinions and hopefully that sort of thing doesn't happen too often. The best teams in the world have off days and it's up to us to resurrect things."
More bruised than an over-ripe banana after taking some big hits in the club's midweek paintball bonding session, Yorke knows that it's about time for Sydney to start hitting the target again on the field.
The striker turned creative director admits that second-placed Sydney have lost their sheen since arriving back from the FIFA Club World Championship in Japan feeling rather "flat".
Sydney distinguished themselves by finishing fifth after narrowly losing to Costa Rica's Deportivo Saprissa and beating Egypt's Al Ain.
With Adelaide out of sight at the top, he added: "It's been highlighted that we've not been at our best since returning home after such a prestigious tournament.
"In some ways we've been set back. You look at the New Zealand game (a 1-1 draw) we should have beaten them and we've been dominating teams without putting them away.
"We've got to dig deep and regroup.
"We must make sure that we don't slip up against the Mariners because second place (which means two bites at the finals cherry) is so important."
The Mariners are the only team to have beaten Sydney at Aussie Stadium this season - a 3-2 victory in November sealed by Noel Spencer's wickedly deflected last-gasp free-kick.
Tonight they need to win by two clear goals to jump ahead of Sydney on goal difference with three rounds left.
Though committed to the A-League cause, Trinidad and Tobago skipper Yorke also has an eye on the World Cup, with the Caribbean country competing at football's big event for the first time in their history.
His English representatives are negotiating with a mystery European club to either take him or loan or let him train with them in the three months between the conclusion of the A-League season and the start of the 2006 finals in Germany in June.
"There's a lot happening and there are a few options on the table," he said. "It would be wrong to reveal too much at the moment because these things have to be done through all the right channels."
Yorke confirmed he will be returning to Australia to fulfil the second year of his contract with Sydney, the famed party boy's favourite playground.
"I'm obligated by the contract and unless I'm told otherwise I'll be back," he said.
Sydney coach Pierre Littbarski will recall striker David Zdrilic after the failed experiment of playing with a sole striker against the Jets. But Yorke will remain in midfield - a role he is relishing.
"I play there for my country and as much as I miss playing up front, I believe that I can do a job there - which will help tune me up well for the World Cup," he added.
Littbarski holds the Mariners in high esteem, nominating tricky striker Tom Pondeljak - back in the starting line-up in place of the injured Stewart Petrie - as the main threat.
The Mariners go into the match with a last-gasp 1-0 victory over New Zealand behind them.
Spencer, the skipper still chastened by November's 5-1 loss to Sydney, said: "I'd be delighted to get another free-kick like the one that gave us the win at Aussie Stadium last time, but I'm betting that was a one-off.
"We won't defend like other teams do against Sydney - we're going for all three points and we want to entertain.
"Sydney have experience to burn, so there's nobody in particular we fear.
"We're trying to treat this like another game and we certainly have something to prove."