Melbourne have disappointed so far (a draw and 3 losses).
And Adelaide (2 wins and 2 draws), who appeared to have been gutted after last year's disasters seem to be on fire. Overall, Adelaide get the home ground advantage over Perth for next week's final due to the bonus point system - which allowed them to top their group ahead of Perth on goal difference despite lesser results.
But it is Perth (3 wins and 1 draw), whom I again had marked as unlikelys for this version, that have surprised with their strength.
Central Coast look strong financially and in terms of experienced players.
And I had a laugh when Frank Farina commented on Wellington's (2 wins and 2 losses) strength relative to the Knights, given the Roar dropped 6 points in NZ last season.
Sydney (1 draw and 3 losses) and Newcastle (2 wins and 2 losses) are still the question marks. It seems to be incredible that Sydney has managed to look depleted again after last seasons woes, but signing Juninho is of cause a major coup that is likely to steady their ship (oh if we all only had that sought of money to risk with such a poor current crowd performance).
Newcastle I just don't know. Could they end up as the season's easy beats? Or will someone else fail to live up to expectations.
The Roar have thrown all the dices this season. They must attract big crowds. To do this they must win at home - something they have only done 4 times in 21 games. A pre-Craig Moore Roar lost 2-3 to Adelaide in Adelaide. Reinaldo seems to be living up to his potential, but Marchino must also for the Roar to make it. Adelaide's new recruit Cassio is starting to sound like the A-League's new Fred. And overall Australia seems to be becoming up and coming Brazilians (South American if you include Newcastle's Argentinian) first testing ground.
For the 3rd year in a row the coverage of the pre-season cup is disappointing. Can't see it, can't hear it, just have to take someone else's viewpoint on the performance. And the crowds are reflecting both the lack of publicity and, in some cases, a positive preparedness to take the game to regional areas.