THE talent has been at Altona Magic since day one of the Football Federation Victoria men's state league 1 season.
The guidance, refining and level-headedness of coach John Markovski was not.
Since Markovski landed in the hot seat after round five, the Magic have gone from a points famine to feast.
Once considered a candidate for relegation, they are now within five points of the summit.
Markovski's record in the 10 weeks since is seven wins, one draw and two losses. After five rounds without him, it was zero wins, one draw and four losses. Markovski tinkered rather than overhauled the team, set in stone a game plan and got the squad in tip-top shape physically.
The latter point, he says, was the most important one. "I'm really proud of them. Their fitness has come up to the level where I wanted them to be. They have a bit of belief now."
The Magic produced their most complete performance of the season in a 4-0 thrashing of St Albans Saints at Paisley Park Soccer Complex on Saturday. This is a Saints outfit with former Melbourne Victory star Tom Pondeljak and one-time Melbourne Knights captain Josip Kozic pulling the strings in the midfield.
Markovski wasn't bothered by the big-name players in opposition shirts. He was more than happy with his own centre line of Rini Muriqi, John Stojcevski, Alon Blumgart and Robert Naumovski. "They had a lot of experience in the midfield, but I don't put a formation and a structure out on the ground according to who they've got," Markovski said. "I've got a system and we stick to it."
The Magic put the foundations under their win with a goal from winger George Papadopoulos in the first half.
Goals came thick and fast after the break with Papadopoulos collecting a second and Sime Kovacevic and Naumovski also getting on the scoresheet.
The clean sheet filled Markovski with just as much pride as the goals from the dependable Kovacevic, Alex Koltovski, Neven Antic and Eddie Cetkin. "I think they all played well," Markovski said. "It was a great team effort."
SL1: Altona Magic 4 St Albans Saints 0
SL2: Fawkner Blues 4 Altona East Phoenix 2, Altona City 1 Moreland City 3
SL3: Williamstown 0 Avondale Heights 1, Hume United v Yarraville PPD
PL2: Elwood City 3 Laverton Park 2
MML: Heidelberg Eagles 1 Altona North 0