Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold may believe the A-League is not about development, but his Adelaide United counterpart Marco Kurz says that's simply not a reality for some clubs.
The absence of the Reds' key Olyroos trio Paul Izzo, Ben Garuccio and George Blackwood will be further underlined on Sunday night when they host the Sky Blues at Coopers Stadium.
Arnold's defending champions are, along with Brisbane Roar, the only Australian club not affected by this month's under-23 Asian Championship in China, a contentious issue among several sides who have lost regular starters.
Last week Arnold said he "can't understand what the fuss is about", dismissed the concept of the A-League as a "development league", and implied he had deliberately recruited to avoid losing players to the Olyroos.
Kurz did not state his thoughts either way, but did point out that he had no choice to field youngsters under the Reds' current set-up.
"Maybe if you have the chance to sign very good and experienced players then you can do this, but our situation in Adelaide is different," Kurz said.
"We must develop young players for the A-League. That's our situation, that's our rules in Adelaide, and that's different to Sydney.
"We cannot sign marquee players ... when you sign two marquee players, for example, you have more money for the other players.
"That's made the difference between some clubs.
"It's clear when you have lost three starters for a tournament the balance is not the same as teams that have lost no players.
"Also our squad is not so big and not of the same quality like Sydney."
Along with his Olyroos, Kurz will be without Baba Diawara (thigh), Nathan Konstandopoulos (knock) and Vince Lia (knee), while Danish gun Johan Absalonsen (thigh) remains in doubt to line up against Adelaide's FFA Cup final conquerors.
"It's not the best situation," he said.
"But it's only one game, a game against the best team in the league."
Sydney, who are out to reinstate their eight-point league lead, are unbeaten in their past 10 games and are showing no signs of slowing down.
On Wednesday the fourth-placed Reds came back to claim a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney using a new formation, and Kurz will carefully contemplate his tactics against the Sky Blues.
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Sydney FC are undefeated in their last three games against Adelaide, keeping a clean sheet in each
* The Reds have won just two of their last nine home games (D3, L4)
* Bobo has a league-high 15 goals, just one shy of equalling Marc Janko's club record for most goals in a season