Any unsuspecting North Island souls who venture down south thinking any sporting fixture will be a stroll in the park are often in for a rude shock.
The usual mantra from teams facing Southern United is they tend to raise the physicality stakes so visitors are encouraged to chuck the soothing balm in the duffel bags before catching the flight.
Whether there's a modicum of truth in it or not, few will deny there's a burning desire from the Southerners to prove their worth to the Northerners, almost to the extent of acquiring a small man's complex.
No doubt, Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United have done the leg often enough not to be lulled into that sense of smugness.
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If anything, the Chris Greatholder and Bill Robertson co-coached Bay United will have their guards up at all times when their national summer league match kicks off at the later time of 7pm (from a 4pm one) on the artificial turf at Logan Park in Dunedin tomorrow.
That's because New Zealand Football this week confirmed Southern United have been sanctioned for fielding an ineligible player in the premiership week one game against Tasman United following a protest against two, thus declaring Southern United have forfeited the match and Tasman United deemed to have won it 3-0 although the former have confirmed they will appeal the decision.
"Obviously that's disappointing for them but they're a strong team who have started the season well and it'll be a very tough game," says Robertson, after the censure saw Southern United free fall from second on the premiership ladder to nestle on the sixth rung with six points.
That pushes Bay United up to third place, below Team Wellington who are all on equal eight points with Waitakere United and Eastern Suburbs AFC in fourth and fifth positions, respectively. The bottleneck only makes week six a moving round for those who want to be in contention early.
Robertson concurs the indicators already suggest how tight and interesting the entire premiership will be, making any team capable of eclipsing the other on their day.
Captain Ruben Parker Hanks and his men will probably be relieved to flee the roasting 30-degree climes of Park Island, Napier, to foot it in agreeable 16C night conditions but, ironically, "the heat" will be on.
"The last game against Suburbs was very difficult conditions and it took it out of the players so the match got a little stretched so towards the end there were some tired bodies," says the veteran centreback of the 3-all draw against the defending champions at Bluewater Stadium last Sunday.
Robertson hastens to add Logan Park is a new venue for Bay United, never mind the Tupperware surface for the party.
"It's quite a long day of travel for us ... so we've also got that to contend with so we'll prepare as well as we can to make sure the players are ready to go come evening," he says before they were to jet off late tomorrow morning.
While historically Southern United have been typecast as physical, Robertson says they have some quality players in their mix for the 2019-20 summer.
A two-time premiership champion with Team Wellington, including as a skipper, he singles out Joel Stevens as a classic example of someone who is adept at stoking the engine room.
"He's been with Team Wellington for a number of years and he's been very successful so I've played alongside Joel who is a fantastic player," he says of Otago-born forager Stevens who claimed a hat-trick, including a penalty, in the 5-2 drubbing of Waitakere United.
If that match encapsulates the hosts' mind set, the 3-0 lead at halftime suggests they have a tendency to cut to the chase.
Robertson says Southern United have incrementally evolved into a more tensile unit over the years of laboriously rebuilding to find stability and cohesiveness.
"But we're in a good frame of mind as well and we've only lost one all season [3-2 to Auckland City FC in Napier] and, since, we've been unbeaten and in a confident space so it should be an interesting game."
He is quick to endorse Bay United's opening 15 minutes against the Lily Whites wasn't anything to write home about after finding themselves 2-nil down as the opposition were exploiting the hosts' left flank at will.
"We got to grips with that quickly ... having a big hurdle to climb from there but we were pleased with how dominant we got in the game."
Frankly the prudent will argue Bay United, having levelled in the second half and deservedly taken the lead from Selemani Ahinga in the 78th minute — after wing back Jorge Akers had hinted on a revival in the 38th minute — should have deprived a limping Lily Whites of any moisture in the searing heat. Instead they conceded the equaliser to Christian Gray in the 84th minute in what was a soft goal from an uncontested corner kick.
Robertson agrees they could have won the match and it was disheartening to not come away with three points.
"Maybe a draw is a fair reflection so we'll have to improve and focus this week on when we're in possession and out of it."
He agrees two draws can hurt on the table but to be going toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the country bodes well for Bay United.
"We feel we should have few more points than we've got ... so we've got to go down to Southern to get a result to make sure we stay up near the top."
Karan Mandair was unavailable last Sunday due to family engagements but the midfielder returns to the mix while another home boy, Josh Murphy, also joins the squad after serving a two-match suspension here against Tasman.
"To this day none of us know why he was sent off so we'd considered an appeal but the way the laws are you have to prove clear and obvious error from the official but, unfortunately, we didn't have good enough footage to [show that]," he says of the red card.