Skipper Andrew Durante watched from the stands with conflicting emotions as his Wellington Phoenix team dismantled Newcastle Jets 5-0 in yesterday's A-League clash.
On one hand, he couldn't have been prouder of the way the seventh-placed Phoenix played despite missing six front-line players who had been called up for international duty.
"It was fantastic - I don't know if we'll be in the squad next week, us international boys," Durante said on Monday.
"They did really well, I was really proud of all of them."
The All Whites are back in Wellington with a 2-0 win over Fiji in the bank from the weekend's World Cup qualifier in Lautoka, and are now gearing up for the return fixture at Westpac Stadium on Tuesday.
Durante also admits to some frustration that Wellington's dominant performance has come so late in the season.
With three games remaining, the Nix have the slimmest of chances to make the playoffs.
They are five points astray of sixth-placed Western Sydney Wanderers, and face three tough games, beginning with next Sunday's away match against Melbourne Victory.
"We felt a performance like that was coming, but I didn't expect it to come when so many people were missing," Durante said.
"Hopefully we can back it up and keep our finals hopes alive."
Durante says the Nix's remaining senior players also stepped up, and joined with co-coach Des Buckingham in praising the contribution of Kosta Barbarouses.
"It was good to see him play so well," Durante said.
"He was direct, he took players on, he scored a good goal, got a nice assist, and his work rate was good.
"His work rate has always been really good, he just hasn't had the goals to show for it."
Buckingham also stepped in to bat for Barbarouses, who has scored five goals for Wellington this season.
"Kosta has been fantastic for us all season - he's not been given the credit that he's rightly deserved," he said.
"When you watch TV, you miss a lot of the work and movement that Kosta does off the ball.
"He's actually done a lot of work for us, he's just been unfortunate in front of goal, but that's starting to come together for him now."