Ten rounds in and six of the eight teams can still make the finals - it really is anyone's game in the Westfield W-League this season.
Ten rounds in and six of the eight teams can still make the finals - it really is anyone's game in the Westfield W-League this season. Here are the top five talking points from 10 rounds.
1. The power of good recruitment
After a lowly second-from-bottom finish last season, Perth Glory is looking like the team to beat with just a few rounds of the regular season remaining. Thanks to some canny off-season recruitment and Jamie Harnwell settling into his role as head coach, the women from the west have been a revelation this year. And they're not short on firepower either if their last outing against Sydney FC, which resulted in a dramatic 7-5 win, is a fair barometer. A favourable run home - with strugglers Newcastle Jets and Adelaide United their last two fixtures - sees the Glory firmly in the box seat for the minor premiership.
2. Every loss counts
Though Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar have given themselves a bit of breathing space with recent results, the top six all remain in contention for finals spots, including newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers FC. With only three rounds remaining, every win (and loss) can mean big movements on the ladder.
3. The usual suspects are all in the mix again
Lurking in the shadows of stellar seasons from Perth and Melbourne, the competition powerhouses (namely Canberra United, Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar) remain poised for a late surge. Often, come finals time, form goes out the window in favour of big-game experience - something that these three teams, having shared the last three titles between them, have in abundance. If the old adage of having to lose a grand final before you win one has any truth to it, Perth and Melbourne may need to put the champagne on ice for another year.
4. Squad depth is key
A longer season, energy-sapping heat and, in Canberra United's case, an international club championship have made for a gruelling Westfield W-League campaign so far. Along with the reality of regular injuries and Matildas commitments, squads have been pushed to the limit. Subsequently, high-impact imports have been invaluable with the likes of Nikki Washington (Canberra), Louise Fors (Western Sydney) and Jessica McDonald (Melbourne) all stepping up in recent weeks.
5. The finals series is a perfect way to end a competitive season
The finals format has bled over from other Australian sports to the chagrin of some football purists. Granted, the biggest leagues in the world (EPL, La Liga, Serie A etc.) succeed with a classic premiership structure, but they also have domestic and continental cup competitions to add the tension of knockout matches. In this country, for those hoping to see a fitting drama-filled climax to the season, nothing beats a grand final.
The 2012/13 season has given us some of the best women's football ever seen in Australia. Who will dominate in the final rounds is anyone's guess.