Both Auckland clubs began the ASB Premiership in fine fashion today but there was hope for those teams trying to disrupt the duopoly.
Defending champions Waitakere United made light work of the rebranded Southern United in Dunedin, while cross-town rivals Auckland City enjoyed a 4-1 win in Wellington.
The comfortable victories hinted at a continuation of the Super City sides' dominance in a competition they have combined to win on all nine occasions, but there was some solace for the rest of the league.
While Waitakere, chasing a fifth straight title, overcame plenty of disruption in the offseason and cruised to a 3-0 victory at Forsyth Barr Stadium, their opposition may play the role of competition minnows now YoungHeart Manawatu have been excluded.
Two goals from Australian signing Richard Cardozo helped Waitakere on their way against the team formerly known as Otago United, while fellow recruit Jordan Lowdon was a particular menace on the left wing.
Goals may be harder to come by against a better side, however, considering attacking trio Roy Krishna, Allan Pearce and Ryan de Vries all left Fred Taylor Park in the offseason.
Waitakere could expect to face a challenge at the top end of the table from Team Wellington, who were unlucky to lose so heavily at Dave Farrington Park.
After Jamie de Abreu cancelled out Darren White's opener, it looked like the capital side would hold on for a well-won point. But Auckland's pressure eventually told when David Browne put them in front with 10 minutes left, before Alex Feneridis and Mario Bilen caught Wellington pushing forward and scored in stoppage time to add gloss to the victory.
Auckland kicked off their season with a 4-1 win over Waitakere in the Charity Cup last weekend and their second triumph by the same scoreline did nothing to temper title expectations for an already-talented side, who pinched Krishna and de Vries from their rivals in the offseason.
Elsewhere, one of the league's real unknown quantities made their mark in an impressive opening day victory. The newly-named WaiBOP United, taking over from the luckless Waikato FC, opened their account with a 2-1 win over Canterbury United in Rotorua.
Dan Terris had Canterbury off to a good start but a goal in each half from Milos Nikolic and Maksim Manko saw WaiBOP triumph. The result was a real boon for the new boys, considering Canterbury finished third last season, though it should be taken with a grain of salt since the visitors were missing talismanic captain Aaron Clapham.
The new look to the competition continues on Thursday, when Hawkes Bay United play host to Wanderers SC, a New Zealand under-20 representative side who have replaced perennial strugglers YoungHeart.