A year later and they’re undeniably moving up in the world, with Manchester City succeeding the Victorian State League 1 outfit as the first sparring partners for John van ‘t Schip’s men.
The two-time Premier League champions have already enjoyed a run-out against A-League opposition, with Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, Willy Caballero, Gael Clichy, Jesus Navas and Samir
Nasri all featuring as they defeated Adelaide United 2-0 behind closed doors at Cbus Super Stadium on Wednesday night.
Those same doors will be thrown open on Saturday, when football fans on the Gold Coast can watch the two City sides go head-to-head, while Fox Sports will also broadcast the friendly, with the Australian team’s goalkeeper Tando Velaphi even set to wear a microphone during the match.
It’s for those reasons and more that van ‘t Schip has rightly described the clash as a landmark event.
“It’s an historic moment for both clubs,” he said.
“For us especially playing in Australia against our sister club, it’ll be a great moment for our players to step on the pitch and play against them.
“We’ve met them before their trip to America last year and this winter we saw them in Abu Dhabi so this is going to be the third occasion that we’re meeting as team but this will be the first on the pitch.”
There will be plenty of new faces in the Melbourne City squad following the arrival of Socceroos Ivan Franjic and Michael Zullo, promising youngsters Corey Gameiro and Steve Kuzmanovski and veteran defender Aaron Hughes.
Forward Harry Novillo, who has joined on a two-year deal after impressing during a temporary stay last term, together with Gameiro and David Williams, will be relied upon to lead the attack following the departure of Mate Dugandzic, Damien Duff and Josh Kennedy.
“It’s very important for everybody, it’s the first friendly game and everyone is looking forward to it,” van ‘t Schip said.
“They want to really go out there and have a competitive game and I can’t imagine a better opponent that they can play against and it’s an opportunity for everyone to see what level they are at and as a team, it’s a good point for us to see what’s needed ahead of the FFA Cup,” he added, referring to the round-of-32 tie away to Edgeworth FC on August 4.
Manchester City meanwhile, seeking to wrest back the title they lost to Chelsea last season, move on to Victoria after the game for International Champions Cup matches against Real Madrid and Roma.
Manchester City v Melbourne City
5pm (AEST), Saturday 18 July
Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Broadcast live on Fox Sports 503
Football Federation Australia