Socceroos World Cup Table
A huge year of international football is off to an inauspicious start for the Socceroos after Thursday night's 1-1 scrappy draw with a desperate Iraq.
Victory would have made the road to Russia a whole lot smoother but instead, they remain third in Group B, three points behind Japan and Saudi Arabia, who share the lead.
But in the context of what is to come, there is no need to hit the panic button - not yet, anyway.
WIN AT HOME AND THEY'RE IN
A three-horse race could be starting to emerge in Group B. Saudi Arabia and Japan are the joint leaders with the same points and the same goal difference. If Australia beats the UAE in their next assignment - and if the Saudis and Japan, who both play at home, overcome Thailand and Iraq respectively - then there will be four-point gap between the top three and the rest. Of course, third position means a play-off with Group A's third-best team, and then another with CONCACAF's fourth-placed finishers, which the Socceroos will be keen to avoid.
THE NEW FORMATION
There's two ways of looking at Ange Postecoglou's daring decision to whip out a new-look 3-4-3 formation against Iraq. On one hand, it was a massive risk to switch things up so dramatically in such trying conditions when a more pragmatic approach might have paid dividends. But on the other, Postecoglou firmly believes this is the system that can not only take them to Russia, but make them a force to be reckoned with both at the World Cup and at June's Confederations Cup, where they'll face Germany, Chile and Cameroon. The more time they have to get used to it, the better off they'll be.
TUESDAY IN SYDNEY IS DO-OR-DIE
Every game is important, as Socceroos players will tell you ad nauseam. But their clash with the UAE shapes as one of their biggest matches in recent memory. The Emirates need to win to stay in the mix, and Australia will be without Aaron Mooy, whose yellow card against Iraq triggered an automatic one-match ban. With Tom Rogic out injured, that means their two most creative players will be sidelined. The shocking state of the Allianz Stadium pitch is another spanner in the works.