Wollongong's right back Tate Russell was on top of the world following Western Sydney's derby win against bitter rivals Sydney FC on their own turf last weekend.
The 1-0 win - thanks to a goal from former sky blue Zac Sapsford - sent Marko Rudan's Wanderers to the top of the A-League Men's ladder after five rounds.
Wollongong Olympic and Wolves junior Russell played the full 90 minutes up against Sydney FC's Slovak international Robert Mak and came out on top.
What makes it even more impressive is the fact Russell is back from a career-threatening ACL injury which ruled him out of the entire 2022/23 campaign. So far in 2023/24, the 24-year-old has started every game and grabbed himself a goal in their 2-0 win against Perth.
The Wanderers are yet to taste defeat in their opening five games and sit equal top of the ladder with Wellington.
Russell told the Mercury that playing in a packed house at the Sydney Football Stadium was a special moment for him in his return from last year's injury layoff. He said the side were confident heading into the clash against their rivals.
"We knew what was expected of us going into the game, but we felt that there wasn't as much pressure on us as there was on them," Russell said.
"That sort of played into our hands in the way that we wanted to prepare. We had the confidence going into that game and I think it showed. It was one of those games were no one really dominated, it was back and forth and a bit like basketball. But I think it showed that we defensively knew what we had to do up against dangerous players like Joe Lolley and Robert Mak.
"But we had the tactical discipline to know our jobs and that's exactly what we did.
"At the start of the week it was like 'OK I've played a league game now but this is the big one'. So it was definitely another step in the right direction [after the ACL injury]. I knew that especially being in and watching previous derbies the intensity that comes with playing in the Sydney Derby and it was something I was definitely looking forward to.
"I had really good chats with our captain Marcelo and he was talking me through it and he probably calmed me down a lot and I think that helped me a lot."
Russell said he was pleased so far with consistent minutes in this A-League campaign.
"That was one of the big things about this year for me personally, just trying to get in some games and I felt really lucky to just be able to start that first one against Wellington," he continued.
"But to play these other five I've definitely not taken it for granted and I'm just trying my best now to keep that spot and make it my own."
Despite still being in his mid-20s, Russell is the Wanderers' longest serving player - having made his debut in 2018.
The Wanderers next match will be a tough assignment against the in-form Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium, a venue which came under heavy criticism following the Roar's 2-1 win against Perth in round five due to the poor playing surface.
A double header of A-League Men's and Women's matches after two concerts had been held on the field in the same month meant the pitch was almost unplayable following both games.
Whilst it plays a factor, Russell said his side would be 'business as usual' as they look to remain unbeaten.
"There's still a long way to go in the season and we've seen before teams can go on a decent run and it gets them in a really good spot on the table," Russell added.
"Going up to Brisbane is going to be another tough game. They're a strong side and they're very well drilled. That will be another challenge for us especially with what people have been saying about Suncorp Stadium and the pitch and all that stuff. But those are things you can't really pay attention to.
"So it's just business as usual and the focus is on us."