The ASB Premiership semi-finals reach the decisive second leg clashes on Sunday with Auckland City and Team Wellington holding the advantage from last week's first leg encounters.
Seeking back-to-back Grand Final appearances, the first and second-placed sides from the minor premiership season host Waitakere United and Hawke's Bay respectively as they look to clinch their spot in the end-of-season showpiece.
Team Wellington return home for just the second time in the last six matches and coach Matt Calcott says the team can't wait for Sunday.
"This is why you're playing and this is why you've done the work over the last nine months," Calcott said.
"With the Phoenix coming into the league, Team Wellington have had to recruit a brand new team and the guys that have come in have been fantastic and put in some great performances throughout the year and we're really looking forward to the second leg and being back at home."
Holding their 2-1 advantage from last week's first leg clash in Napier with Henry Fa'arodo grabbing both goals for the visitors, Calcott says their work without the ball serves as a signpost for what will be required this weekend.
"I think we limited Hawke's Bay to three possibly four chances and that's what we worked on last week and it's encouraging. It gave us that platform to attack and to get the two away goals was pleasing."
"I think you start out and go about the game like any other game. If the state of the game changes you need to look at changing it up or even dropping off or whatever is needed to get the tie across the line. Most importantly from our side, we will just look to start like we have been.
"Hawke's Bay are looking to get those two away goals so there may be some players treading higher up the park so we'll need to contend with that. But that obviously leaves things open and, for the neutral, it may become a pretty good game to watch."
Meanwhile, Hawke's Bay United coach Brett Angell feels, despite being on the wrong end of the score line last week at home, their performance at Bluewater Stadium gives reason for optimism.
"I thought we started quite slowly and Wellington got on top and scored the goal," Angell said.
"Then we settled down a little bit, got back into the game and scored the penalty and I actually felt we were the team that was going to go on to get the second goal. As it was, we switched off slightly and got punished for it.
"But that's how tight the game was and I don't expect it to be any different on Sunday."
With two goals needed to overturn the first leg deficit, Angell is calling for his team to find a more clinical edge in the opposition penalty area - something the coach says the side have been searching for all season.
"We've just got to take 100 percent of the opportunities we create and be more deadly in that regard. Throughout the season we've created an abundance of chances in many of our games and probably haven't come away with the amount of goals.
"We've always felt we're capable of creating goal-scoring opportunities, we probably need to take a higher percentage of those this weekend to stand a better chance."
There are also work-ons at the other end, Angell saying a stronger defensive focus is required at key moments.
"I would love to keep a clean sheet. That would give us the platform to build from. We have had a tendency to give away what I call soft goals. That's continued throughout the season and I felt the set piece goal we conceded we could have done better with. If we can shut them down at one end I'm pretty sure we are more than capable of getting the number of goals required to go through in the tie."
In Sunday's second semi-final, hosts Auckland City ride an 11-game winning run into their third meeting with their cross-town rivals in four weeks.
Last week's 2-0 win at Fred Taylor Park came after their 1-0 victory at Kiwitea on March 8 while their early season clash produced a 1-0 away win in stoppage time.
Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx says last weekend's semi-final first leg once again reflected the nature of the derby rivalry.
"The first leg was full of pressure and intensity," Tribulietx told aucklandcityfc.com.
"The 2-0 result was a very good one for us, but that means we can expect an even more highly motivated Waitakere United side keen to overturn the two goal deficit."
With the visitors needing goals from the outset on Sunday, Tribulietx says the focus and plan for his team is clear.
"We need to be very careful in transition with their quick players like Dylan Manickum, Derice Richards and Nathaniel Bowen always a threat.
"These players look to get in behind defences every chance they get and with David Mulligan's high quality long range passing we need to be very focused about our jobs on the day," Tribulietx said.
"Our tactical and physical intensity will be a key if we are to compete well. I believe a big part of this will be imposing our use of the ball on the match while making sure our defensive structure is at its resilient best," he said.
Without the services of Ryan De Vries and Sam Burfoot, both away on international duty with the All Whites, the Navy Blues have bolstered their squad with a clutch of new signings.
Former U-20 internationals Colin Murphy - formerly with Fort Lauderdale Strikers - and Anthony Hobbs have joined the club along with WaiBOP United goalkeeper Danyon Drake.
For their part, Waitakere United enter Sunday's decisive second leg after a first leg effort which player/coach Brian Shelley was content with.
"I think it was a reasonable performance from our players," Shelley said.
"In particular the first 20 minutes; if we convert one of the chances we created, it's probably a different game. They scored against the run of play and they've got some real quality in the team and somehow we found ourselves two goals down in a game that we were very much in."
Shelley says the visitors will not stray too much from a formula they used last week which they feel can bring success again - especially if they can find the game's opening goal.
"I don't think we need to change a hell of a lot tactically and I don't think there are any secrets now between ourselves and Auckland.
"What we didn't want to do was let Auckland City dictate the pace of the game. We had a game plan to start on the front foot and press them all over the pitch and when we win the ball back to use it well. In the first 20 minutes we ticked all those boxes and we created chances but if you don't take your chances you're not going to win football games."
"We have spoken all week about ensuring that we score the first goal and give ourselves time in the game to get that equalising goal.
"But it's important we don't throw everything too early at Auckland City because if you do, you're leaving yourselves vulnerable to being punished by a quality team.
"It needs to be a controlled performance by us and we've got some really good players in our team and I'm really looking forward to the game as the rest of the team are."