Tauranga City United coach Duncan Lowry is ruing his side's slow start to the Northern League Second Division season ahead of their clash with leaders Western Springs at Links Avenue on Sunday afternoon.
Losses to Mangere United and Claudelands Rovers in the opening two rounds was not an ideal way for the team to start its season, but three wins and a draw since signals the side is on the way up.
"We've played against some bad teams and brought ourselves down to their level," said Lowry.
"Claudelands and Manukau City are probably the two worst teams we've played all year and both of them have taken points off us."
Lowry said his side should never have let its 3-1 halftime lead against Manukau City slip away. "We came into the changing rooms 3-1 up and like everybody else I thought the game was over.
"That two-goal lead is always dangerous no matter what because you think the game is in the bag, but whoever scores the next goal has the running and that was it."
The trend of playing down to their opposition is unlikely to have any bearing on Sunday's match with the undefeated Western Heights, who have conceded just one goal from their six fixtures so far this season.
"Western Springs are sitting on top of the table.
"If we were to then take three points off Western Springs we would have been sitting one point behind them - where we should be I think.
"Player for player our boys are as good as anyone in the league."
The side welcomes back key player Mark Knell this week after an enforced absence due to him receiving two yellow cards in a match a fortnight ago.
A win could see City climb the ladder into a share of second from their current position of fifth.
The Chatham Cup looms large after Sunday's fixture with a date with Waitemata City - away from home - set for May 11.
"That will be another little tricky one because they are playing Federation One up there," Lowry said.
"Everyone's out to slay the giant - and we will be the giant next week," he said.
Tauranga Old Blues have been drawn to play Hukanui Rototuna at home in the first round of the knockout competition.
Sunday's match, beginning at 2.30pm, will be preceded by a National League Premier clash between the Bay of Plenty Women's team and Glenfield Rovers from 12.15pm.