If you look at last Saturday compared to tomorrow, the odds are more favourable that the travelling Whanganui teams in the Lotto Federation League should complete just their second sweep of a weekend in 2019.
However, given the up-and-down nature of their seasons so far, the favourite tags sit rather uneasy for both Versatile Wanganui City FC and GJ Gardner Homes Wanganui as they prepared to face teams below them on the points table.
When then Kelvin Francis-coached City defeated New Plymouth Rangers twice in 2018, those results were considered minor upsets, but fresh off tipping up fourth-placed North End 1-0 last weekend at the start of a long home run of games, City (3-1-3) should expect more of the same against this year's Rangers, currently stranded bottom of the table with a 1-0-6 record.
However, co-coach Anthony Bell will be hanging off his cellphone at Fieldays in Hamilton to learn the outcome, while Zane Robinson is on vacation in Rarotonga and standout Kyle Graham-Luke, the goal scorer against North End, may also be unavailable.
"So that's three obviously key players who aren't there or who are in doubt," said Bell.
"But with us trialling or taking the younger fellas under our wing, here's the chance [for them] to step up."
The plans of the last two weekends to use players Francis has developed in the lower grades, against Hawera FC in the Federation Cup and then again for North End, when Bell benched himself, is now expected to be virtue from necessity.
"That's where we kind of plan to involve them off the bench – play the football and seeing the kind of football we want to achieve, so they're not so thrown into the deep end," Bell said.
His fellow co-coach Latham Berry will therefore take on added responsibilities, along with the likes of the experienced Dan Aplin and Adam Gill, who is only playing the Wembley Park home games for the 1sts.
"They know the drill so if I'm not there or Latham's occupied, they're big enough to set the warmup," said Bell.
Second half goal rampage sets up Football Whanganui win
Football: Wanganui Athletic get revenge on Hokowhitu FC
"We want to keep improving so by the time we come to Havelock [Wanderers] in 8-10 weeks time, we should peak."
Normally a team in the upper mid-table at least, although Rangers have popped in more goals than City during League play – 14 compared to 12 – they have conceded the third-worst of the League with 25.
It started well enough, beating Hokowhitu in New Plymouth 4-2, but that was followed by the double sucker punch of meeting the leading teams, losing 4-1 away to Havelock North, then 5-1 at home to Palmerston North Marist.
Rangers have yet to recover, especially on the road, despite being competitive as they dropped games to Palmerston North Boys High (away) 4-3, North End (home) 3-2, Red Sox (away) 4-2 and last weekend Massey University (away) 3-2.
"You can't take your opposition for granted and Rangers being a good example of that," said Bell.
"Knowing the history of the club, they have been there or thereabouts competing against our Whanganui teams.
"It is their shortest trip."
Currently, PNBHS 1st XI has a slightly better tally than Rangers at 1-1-5, but the League's worst record for goals conceded at 33, compared to 11 scored, which was exacerbated by the 12-2 hammering they suffered last weekend away to Havelock North.
Nonetheless, while Wanganui Athletic (2-2-3) had all the motivation the needed last weekend when they beat Hokowhitu 3-0, in payback for their elimination from the Federation Cup, coach Jason King sees tomorrow as more of a reset against the schoolboys.
"I'm always cautious of being over confident when it comes to these teams," he said.
"We're positive about our chances, they're probably hurting a little after last week.
"They will be lacking in some football knowledge and nous, but they will make up for it with enthusiasm."
Being on the larger Memorial Park pitch, Wanganui have the chance to use the larger width to get the better of the passing game, while for the first time, King should have an identical lineup to the team that went to Skoglund Park last week.
Ryan Holden has scored goals in both games with Hokowhitu, while Scott Burney found the back of the net again last Saturday, along with Will King getting his first for the season.
If Wanganui need motivation, King took note of the PNBHS coach being quoted by Palmerston North media during the autopsy of the Havelock North hammering, where he stated this game was one they had targeted for a competition point, if not three.
"We obviously have different plans," said King.
"If we had a couple more wins I would probably say, 'yeah, we're going to be dominant'.
"We've just got to out-football them."
PNBHS started the League with a 6-2 away loss to North End, then beaten 2-1 at home by Red Sox and 3-0 away by Massey.
The 4-3 home win over Rangers lifted spirits, but having to leave Palmerston North for the first time saw a 5-0 loss to Napier Marist, before coming back home to draw 2-2 with Hokowhitu.
But it will take a major mental lift after the 12-2 loss to Havelock North to hold off Wanganui Athletic today.
All League games start at 2.45pm.
Meanwhile, Team Ritesh Football Whanganui will be looking to consolidate second spot on the Women's Federation League table when Taradale AFC come to Wembley Park at 1pm on Sunday.
A last minute goal over in Napier secured Whanganui a 1-1 draw with Taradale in April during the first round of games.