The first Grand Final of the APL’s contentious three-year Destination NSW deal is upon us and while build-up has been soured by a heavy public focus on that decision, the on-field match-up provides all the intrigue of previous years.

Both Melbourne City and Central Coast Mariners are playing their fourth Grand Finals, although they’ve totted their figures in very different ways. After years spent stalling in transition between Melbourne Heart and City, the Bundoora-based outfit have rattled into a fourth-consecutive decider, for one Championship thus far. Their current run of three consecutive Premierships speaks to their dominance of the competition.

In contrast, the Mariners have much of the decade since their 2013 Championship in the wilderness. Four wooden spoons in five years and the constant threat of relocation nagged at their very foundations; for a long time, the rot seemed terminal.

Their revival now reaches its apex under Nick Montgomery. Can they take advantage, or will City frank their era of success and send skipper Scott Jamieson happily into retirement? The voice of the domestic league’s showpiece, Simon Hill, answers all…